Thirty-one VLCCs loaded fuel oil in 2011, four fewer than in 2010. They loaded 7.9 million tonnes all together in 2011, an average of 255,000 tonnes per VLCC. In 2010 the total was 8.7 million tonnes. By far most of the ships, twenty-two, combined unloading crude oil with loading fuel oil. A combination trip is relatively profitable for ship owners in paying port dues. Nine tankers arrived empty. Vopak Europoort, ETT and Palen 80 are the main locations where VLCCs are loaded.
This activity puts the port of Rotterdam literally halfway between Russia and Asia. The fuel oil comes from Russian refineries for the most part, where they still produce a lot of fuel oil in relation to lighter products like petrol. Merchants transport the surplus to Rotterdam because that is where a great deal of the trade in and storage of fuel oil occurs. Part of the surplus is used as bunker fuel on the Rotterdam bunker market. Another part remains on the market and is sold internationally, especially to Singapore, the hub for Asia. Therefore, all thirty-one VLCCs had Singapore as a destination.
Chartering and fixing
The largest charterer in 2011 was Cargill with seven ships (1.85 million tonnes). The second was Clearlake, the shipping branch of oil trader Gunvor: four ships and 0.84 million tonnes. Five ships transported 1.37 million tonnes for unknown charterers. Rotterdam has a large market share in fuel oil. In 2011, for the entire region of north-western Europe, 44 VLCCs were secured for trips (‘fixed’). This figure is only indicative, as not every ‘fixture’ is publicised and not all trips mentioned go ahead. The VLCC rate for a trip was $3.5 million on average. This comes out at around $13.50 per tonne.