August 6, 2009 / 7:28 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE1-Conoco leases 2 mln bbl tanker to store oil near US

(Adds tanker charter, crude price, details throughout.)

NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips (COP.N) has leased a supertanker to store about 2 million barrels of crude off the U.S. Gulf Coast, as seaborne oil inventories rise on favorable economics for holding oil off the market, industry sources said Thursday.

Conoco leased the very large crude carrier Leander, which has been floating with its oil cargo near Galveston, Texas, since early this week, the sources said. The tanker was chartered for 30 days, but Conoco could later renew the lease and keep the oil in offshore storage, they added.

Conoco did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Sources estimated the day-rate for the tanker charter was around $30,000, and said the ship loaded its cargo of crude in the U.S. Gulf region.

Which grade of crude Conoco is storing isn’t known and the charter terms are private. Sources said the crude may have been lightered from other vessels. They said more companies are holding crude off the Gulf Coast since onshore storage tanks in the United States are largely filled already.

An oil futures market in contango -- when oil for prompt delivery is priced at a discount to barrels for later delivery -- has encouraged traders to store crude to turn a profit.

U.S. light, sweet crude futures for September delivery were trading Thursday at a $1.85 a barrel discount to barrels for delivery in October. CL-1=R That discount was far bigger than the cost of storing a barrel of oil at sea for a month, which has been hovering around $1.00 a barrel, after tanker charter rates plunged this year. (Reporting by Joshua Schneyer; additional reporting by Edward McAllister; editing by Jim Marshall)

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