LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) -
* Ship builders in Asia are sending a record number of supertankers west carrying middle distillate oil products, such as diesel, data intelligence firm Vortexa said on Thursday, adding more volumes might follow.
* Very large crude carriers (VLCC) often carry refined, or clean, oil products on their maiden journey before switching to crude oil.
* “New build VLCCs are loading clean gasoil for maiden voyages at record levels in 2019,” data intelligence firm Vortexa said on Thursday.
* “So far this year, Vortexa has observed seven new VLCCs load gasoil — which includes ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD) — for maiden voyages, matching the number seen across the whole of 2018, a record year itself. And more such departures could be on the way.”
* Vortexa pointed to data showing 15 VLCCs have already been delivered this year and a further eight were expected by the end of March.
* This activity coincided with falling middle distillates stocks in Europe and rising stocks in Asia, making westward journeys attractive for shippers.
* Three new-built VLCCs carrying middle distillates, the Olympic Laurel, the Dijilah and the Ascona, are currently off the coast of Lome after sailing from Asia, according to Refinitiv shipping data, Vortexa and traders. (Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)