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Tankers in deep water as hire rates stay low

Hire-rates for large tankers have been desperately low for four years and in the past two have barely covered direct operating costs

Tanker owners are accustomed to business swings. In an efficient market, supported by good data, any surpluses or shortages of capacity can have a disproportionate impact on charter rates. But, after four years of a strong hirers' market, they are saying the business is no longer sustainable. Over 2012 the owner of a tanker of very large crude carrier (VLCC) size received an average of $20,000 a day on time-charter, according to the Oslo-based shipbrokers, R S Platou. The figure - the average of a wide range, because the VLCC category is defined as tankers of 160,000-320,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt) - was an improvement on the $15,000 day-rate of 2011, but well below the $35,000 of 2010 and

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