Eight tankers controlled by BP Shipping have been put up for sale in a market where available modern tonnage is in short supply but high demand.

At least six brokers have been tasked with selling five handysize oil and chemical carriers and three MR tankers that are owned by ICBC Financial Leasing and bareboat-chartered to Maersk Tankers.

All eight Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD)-built ships were chartered back to BP on three-year time charters under deals signed in 2019.

The handysize quintet is listed as the 39,999-dwt Maersk Altus (ex-British Altus), Maersk Cirrus (ex-British Cirrus), Maersk Stratus (ex-British Stratus, all built 2017), Maersk Cumulus (ex-British Cumulus) and Maersk Nimbus (ex-British Nimbus, both built 2016).

The three MRs are named as the 45,500-dwt Maersk Caelum (ex-British Caelum), Maersk Navigator (ex-British Navigator) and Maersk Seafarer (ex-British Seafarer, all built 2016).

Guide prices of $25m to $26m have been put on the handysizes, while the MRs are being offered at $30m to $31m.

Those following the sale told TradeWinds that at least 18 parties have expressed interest.

Brokers said there is a huge appetite for modern tanker tonnage, particularly for the smaller vessels that are performing best in the current market.

“An MR is earning more than an aframax, an aframax more than a suezmax and a suezmax more than a VLCC,” one said.

He added that it should be possible to charter out the BP MR vessels on three-year deals at rates of at least $15,000 per day.

BP took these eight up-for-sale tankers back in on three-year time-charters in 2019. Photo: BP

Clean tankers are “powering ahead”, another broker said, describing the crude sector as “languishing” in contrast.

Clarksons quotes average earnings for MR tankers for April at $33,485 per day, moving higher in the first week of May to $38,302 per day.

Average annual earnings for this vessel size for the year to date are $16,085 per day, compared with $6,740 per day for 2021.

Earnings for the clean handysize sector are following similar trends.

Shipbroker Barry Rogliano Salles said MR demand has been supported by strong import requirements from the US Gulf to Latin America and a surge in refined product exports from China, which is in the grip of Covid lockdowns.

Prices for newbuildings have also shot up and brokers report that early delivery slots have disappeared at key yards, such as HMD and K Shipbuilding, pushing buyers towards modern secondhand tonnage that can quickly be deployed to cash in on the current hot market.

One newbuilding broker said the price for an LR2 tanker has risen more than $20m in two years from $46m to the mid-$60m level.

This month, Greece’s Navios Maritime Partners agreed to pay $62.7m each for four 115,000-dwt LR2 newbuildings that it said will be fitted with additional features. The vessels are understood to be backed by charters with Chevron Shipping.