Oil tanker industry to be hit by rise of U.S. shale oil

As U.S. oil production continues to rise thanks to unconventional oil exploration, the country's oil imports have begun to decline correspondingly. While this has been a selling point for many American political leaders, it also could spur a major downturn for the global oil tanker industry, according to Platts.

A new report from Norwegian financial services firm DNB suggests that oil tanker fleet growth rate could fall by more than half by next year, going from 9 percent this year to only 4 percent next year. By 2014, the report projects the industry will not actually see any growth in fleet sizes or in overall usage.

"US seaborne imports of crude oil is set to be dramatically reduced in the coming years, mainly due to the large expected increase in domestic crude production," the report explained. "All else equal this will be negative for the crude oil tanker market."

Utilization rates will likely pick up slowly after falling sharply next year, but in large part thanks to the slow growth in fleet sizes.

Bloomberg notes that Mexico's increasing exports to Asia will offer some modest support for the industry, but nothing in the order of the declines in U.S. imports.

Outlooks for the global oil tanker industry are available at PennEnergy's Research area.

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