Oil tanker owners face spiraling insurance costs to load cargoes from the world’s largest crude-export region after the latest round of attacks on vessels.
War risk premiums that owners pay each time they go to the Persian Gulf have now surged to at least $185,000 for supertankers, according to people with knowledge of the market. They rose to $50,000 after the attacks a month ago.
Both owners and the companies that charter their ships paused bookings in the immediate aftermath of attacks on Thursday as they re-evaluated risks to shipping barrels from the Middle East in the wake of attacks on two more tankers just a month after similar incidents. Insurance costs from the Persian Gulf are soaring.
The U.S. pointed the finger at Iran for the attacks just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor for crude oil exports. The Persian Gulf country immediately denied being responsible. Regardless, six tankers, hauling a variety of petroleum cargoes, have now been targeted in the space of just 32 days — the kind of threat to merchant shipping that hasn’t been seen in the region for decades.
“We need to remember that some 30% of the world’s crude oil passes through the Straits,” said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of Intertanko, the biggest trade group for tanker owners. “If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”
The Joint War Committee, a group that advises insurers, designated the entire Persian Gulf and waters just outside it a so-called Listed Area after the incidents a month ago. The classification gives underwriters room to charge more. As of Thursday, owners were reluctant to send vessels to the region while there was also a dearth of cargoes, according to traders and shipbrokers involved in that market, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
DNK, the mutual insurer that covered one of the ships damaged Thursday, will increase its rates for war insurance, according to a person familiar with the matter. Rival insurer Hellenic War Risks Club will probably increase a so-called additional premium that owners pay when sailing to the Persian Gulf with immediate effect, according to a notice on its website…