(Reuters) – Euronav deepened its quarterly net loss as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus dragged on the recovery of the crude tanker market, the Belgian shipping group said this week.
“We believe this is a temporary pause,” Chief Executive Hugo De Stoop said in a statement, predicting a rebound in oil supply, restocking requirements of global crude inventory and consumption to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Output cuts by the OPEC+ group of oil-producing countries have constrained global crude oil exports during the pandemic, while restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus have slowed demand for fuel, piling pressure on the tanker industry.
Euronav had pointed to a recovery in freight rates in its third quarter, but demand for crude oil and export cargoes slowed again as governments brought in new restrictions as the Omicron variant emerged last year.
OPEC+ agreed to stick to moderate rises in its oil output when it met on Wednesday despite calls to hike exports as economies recover from the pandemic.
Antwerp-based Euronav, which provides crude oil shipping and storage services, also flagged positive developments, saying cargo volumes improved during the second half of the year and appeared “encouraging” for 2022.
The group reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $72.6 million after a loss of $58.2 million a year earlier.
(Reporting by Valentine Baldassari; Editing by Jason Neely and Jan Harvey)
Photo courtesy Euronav