February 17, 2016 / 11:01 AM / 4 years ago

Traders begin gasoline floating storage as stocks swell

* At least two tankers booked in recent days

* Gasoline stocks at record high in Europe, U.S.

By Ron Bousso

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Traders have begun storing gasoline on tankers off the coast of Europe as land storage tanks near maximum capacity, the latest sign of increasing stress in the refined oil products market.

While demand for gasoline and its blending components was exceptionally high last year, particularly in the United States and China, a seasonal dip in demand has caused large product build-ups in the Atlantic basin in recent week.

At least three long-range tankers have been booked for storage in recent days, according to shipping data, traders and ship brokers.

The 80,000-tonne tanker Fair Seas has been booked by trading house Gunvor for storage over a period of 30 to 60 days at a daily rate of $23,000 and is currently loading its cargo in the port of Amsterdam, according to Reuters ship tracking.

Similarly, the 60,000-tonne BW Orinoco was booked at similar terms by Litasco, the trading arm of Russian oil producer Lukoil , according to shipping data, traders and ship brokers.

Several other tankers are being discussed for storage too, according to traders.

Gasoline stocks at the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp storage hub hit an all-time high last week at 1.33 million tonnes, according to data from Dutch consultancy PJK International.

Similarly, U.S. gasoline stores have risen to record highs.

The ample supplies and weak demand have led to a decline in prompt prices, which are currently trading at a strong discount of around $50 a tonne to the April contracts, when demand for summer-grade gasoline traditionally rises ahead of the summer holidays.

“Floating storage is happening for summer grade,” a trader said.

Traders started using barges for floating storage in recent weeks, causing congestion at several terminals in northwest Europe, according to traders and barge brokers. (Additional reporting by Libby George and Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by Susan Thomas)

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