Trading giant Trafigura is considering repurposing crude tanker tonnage for trading clean cargoes from East to West and is being linked to fixtures for this business.

Tanker market players said the trader has been looking at making a move on this and said talk is rife in the market that it may have fixed up to four VLCCs and a further eight suezmaxes.

Some named tonnage that had potentially been fixed on period hire for this business.

They included the VLCCs, Sinokor Merchant Marine’s 307,204-dwt Monaco Loyalty (built 2007), which is currently doing storage work, and the 297,974-dwt Plata Glory (built 2009) along with the suezmax vessels Trafigura’s own 150,000-dwt Marlin Sardinia (built 2019), 158,000-dwt Aquafreedom (built 2022) and the 158,000-dwt Elandra Falcon (built 2017).

Trafigura said it did not have a comment on the market reports when contacted by TradeWinds.

Several players confirmed that Trafigura has been enquiring about this type of business and said this had prompted quite a volume of talk in the market.

But they were also sceptical about whether it could become a reality.

Trading of clean products is normally done on smaller dedicated tonnage.

VLCCs and suezmax have been used to ship large clean cargoes but these are usually newbuildings on maiden voyages which still have clean tanks that are as yet uncontaminated by crude oil.

Trafigura has previously been seen taking delivering newbuildings on hire and shipping a clean cargo loaded at Asian refineries to West Africa where it is then progressively lightered.

One exhausted Posidonia attendee TradeWinds spoke to said cleaning up the tanks alone on a large tanker that had been trading crude would “cost an arm and a leg” and questioned how the flow lines could be thoroughly cleaned to ensure there would be no contamination of the products to be carried.

Some speculated that clean-up costs on crude trading vessels would likely run into millions of dollars.

They said independent owners would be unlikely to want to touch this type of business for fear of issues with cargo contamination.

But if a trader is moving its own cargoes, it might be able to make a commercial case for such a venture.

Another analyst pointed to an Amsterdam Rotterdam Antwerp ban on exports of high sulphur gasoil into Africa and suggested this may be offering a window for East-to-West large clean shipments.