Tanker owners are facing increased competition from traders and oil firms in the spot trade, where shipping demand has fallen amid large cutbacks of crude output by major producers, according to industry sources.

In the month to 20 May, 36% of the 91 confirmed or failed VLCC fixtures were linked to vessels operated by refiners, oil majors or trading houses, data from Tankers International showed.

This compared with 26% of the 115 fixtures recorded between 21 March and 20 April.