The lonely drifting oil tanker that signals OPEC's struggle

Tanker vessel Saiq is floating idly at sea, south of the Canary Islands, in search of a customer for its oil cargo, and the vessel seems emblematic of a broader trend in the physical oil market.

Photo: Euronav

If a single ship can capture the current state of the global oil market, it is the supertanker Saiq, floating idly about 850 kilometers (530 miles) south of the Canary Islands.

Until a few days ago, the 330-meter-long tanker, chartered by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, was steaming at 13 knots toward the Chinese port of Tianjin after loading a 2-million-barrel cargo of North Sea oil at the Hound Point terminal near Edinburgh. Then, it suddenly stopped in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

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