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Morgan Stanley Said to Seek Supertanker to Store Oil

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  • Morgan Stanley Said to Seek Supertanker to Store Oil

    Morgan Stanley Said to Seek Supertanker to Store Oil (Update2)

    By Alaric Nightingale and Todd Zeranski
    Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley is seeking a supertanker to store crude oil, joining Citigroup Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in trying to profit from higher prices later in the year, four shipbrokers said.
    The bank has yet to find a suitable vessel, said one of the brokers, all of whom asked not to be identified because the information is private. Carlos Melville, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley in London, declined to comment.
    “There’s a lot of people looking for storage,” Denis Petropoulos, London-based head of tankers at Braemar Shipping Services Plc, the world’s second-largest publicly traded shipbroker, said by phone.
    Banks and commodity traders are seeking new ways to make money after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell by the most since 1937 last year and crude oil prices dropped more than $100 a barrel from their peak. Companies including Koch Industries Inc. and BP Plc are hoarding enough crude at sea to supply the world for almost a day.
    Frontline Ltd., the world’s biggest owner of supertankers, yesterday said about 80 million barrels of crude oil are being stored in tankers, the most in 20 years. A purchaser could buy oil now, keep it for months at sea and fetch better prices by selling oil futures that are higher than the spot price.
    The so-called contango pricing structure has been caused by excess oil supply as demand slows and speculation that output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce the glut later this year.
    Tanks Filling Up
    Slumping U.S. oil demand means tanks are filling at Cushing, Oklahoma, the pricing point for the benchmark West Texas Intermediate grade. Futures contracts indicate WTI will gain an average of about $2.15 a barrel a month until December.
    Supertanker storage deals are being done at about $75,000 a day, according to Petropoulos. Assuming the ship has a 2 million- barrel cargo, that works out at $1.12 a barrel over a 30-day period. Traders also need to pay financing and insurance costs.
    Phibro LLC, Citigroup’s commodities trading unit, has the carrier Ice Transporter stationed off north Scotland, according to people familiar with the matter. Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, has booked the supertankers Leander and Eliza.
    Oil traders hired two more ships to store North Sea crude off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The 2 million-barrel supertanker Luxembourg is scheduled to arrive at Scapa Flow on Jan. 21 while the 600,000-barrel transporter Atlantic Galaxy is already there, said Captain William Sclater, operations manager at the port.
    Oil Grades
    The easiest types of oil to buy for the trade are likely to be either WTI or the North Sea grades Brent, Forties, Oseberg or Ekofisk. That’s because they are the ones used to settle the most-traded futures contracts.
    Other oils, such as those from the Middle East and Africa, are usually bought and sold at prices related to the main European and U.S. grades. Because those prices fluctuate, it means traders assume an extra risk by hoarding them.
    Morgan Stanley owns half of Heidmar Inc., which operates smaller oil tankers. Heidmar hasn’t had demand for its tankers to store oil, probably because they aren’t the largest supertankers that investors need for the contango trade, Tim Brennan, the company’s chief executive officer, said by phone Jan. 8.

    "There's one way to find out if a man is honest-ask him. If he says 'yes,' you know he is a crook." Groucho Marx