| NEW YORK, June 27
NEW YORK, June 27 ExxonMobil has taken a
long-term charter on the U.S.-flagged American Phoenix oil
tanker at a near record rate of around $100,000 per day, trade
sources said, highlighting the scarcity of vessels available to
ship oil and refined products between United States ports.
The 339,000-barrel tanker, which was re-leased by Koch
Shipping and Supply, is thought to have been the only one of
around three dozen so-called Jones Act tankers available for
lease, with traders having snapped up others to help move
surging output from Texas's Eagle Ford shale to Gulf Coast
The American Phoenix had struggled over the past few months
to find a re-lease at the rates Koch was offering, and had been
available in the spot market as recently as mid-June, brokers
said, raising questions about whether the more than 50 percent
surge in Jones Act rates since last year was sustainable.
But they said the relatively high rate, above the $75,000
per day that they described as the going rate for that size
ship, suggests that the Jones Act market remains tight.
Exxon declined to comment on the lease and a Koch
spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
It is unclear how Exxon will use the tanker, or whether it
will seek to convert it from carrying refined, or "clean"
products to carrying "dirty" crude oil. The Phoenix was employed
for crude oil service late last year, but was converted back to
refined fuels several months ago.
The re-lease will run for two years, until the end of Koch's
term charter from owners Mid Ocean Marine.
Rates for Jones Act tankers, previously used primarily to
ferry gasoline and diesel from Gulf Coast refiners to Florida or
the East Coast, have surged this year as traders take up half a
dozen vessels to carry Eagle Ford from the port of Corpus
Christi to refiners up the coast in Houston or Louisiana.
The Jones Act from 1920 requires all vessels operating
between U.S. ports to be U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-crewed
in order to protect the United States commercial industry.
There are fewer than 50 tankers currently moving crude oil
and refined products between U.S. ports; around a dozen of them
trade strictly between Alaskan production sites and refineries
on the West Coast.
The American Phoenix is currently in Miami, Florida, after
leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida, according to historical
vessel tracks. In the past month, it has moved between Southwest
Pass, Louisiana, and ports in Florida, where it was presumably
delivering gasoline or another refined fuel.