Tanker group Euronav swings to loss but sees demand picking up

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oil tankers lightering in rotterdam the netherlands

– Euronav swung to a loss on Thursday in what the oil shipping and storage operator said was a “challenging” third quarter, but the company pointed to a strong recovery in freight rates and activity.

The group, one of the largest oil tanker companies in the world, reported a third-quarter net loss of $105.9 million, against a profit of $46.2 million a year earlier.

“We have every reason to be confident that we have now come through the trough of this particular cycle,” Chief Executive Hugo De Stoop said in a statement, “after a third quarter that was among the most challenging for our market in recent memory.”

The tanker industry has been under pressure this year as global crude oil exports have been constrained by OPEC+ output cuts and as COVID-19 outbreaks continued to depress demand.

The Antwerp-based group, which provides crude oil shipping and storage services, however flagged a number of positive developments that have emerged since early September.

“The demand for oil transportation is recovering thanks to an improved crude demand as part of post-COVID global economic recovery, additional demand for fuel oil as energy producers are switching to a cheaper solution, and an OPEC+ production growth translating into exports,” De Stoop said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+, limited oil exports last year during the pandemic, but agreed in July to boost output.

Ministers from the OPEC+ group are set to meet later on Thursday to decide output policy.

Euronav also pointed to the seasonal uplift in demand ahead of winter, enhanced by extreme and sudden price rises for fuels that have increased the relative attractiveness of crude and prompted some substitution.

(Reporting by Juliette Portala ; editing by Jane Merriman)