Charterers are rushing to secure tankers to carry oil cargoes ahead of any regional escalation of the Israel-Hamas war, Euronav said on Thursday.

“However, since last week both Suezmax as well as VLCC’s are enjoying a strong rally as charterers rush to secure supply head of any widening MEG conflict,” said in a statement.

There are fears that the war between Israel and Hamas is set to intensify, and despite the fact that there has been no evidence that Iran orchestrated Hamas’ attack on Israel, there are concerns that a regional conflict will erupt.

It is assessed likely that an Israel Defence Forces ground invasion of Gaza is imminent.

Belgium-based Euronav tanker owner explained that freight rates reverted to their traditional seasonal patterns during the third quarter of 2023, buffeted by initial OPEC+ production and export cuts being increased unilaterally in size and duration by Saudi Arabia.

Along with concerns over underlying demand for crude and further global inventory drawdowns, these factors provided sustained headwinds the large crude tanker market during Q3.

Freight rates for both VLCC and suezmax consequently drifted lower through the quarter but some context is needed, the shipowner said.

Until now the tanker owner reports that so far in the fourth quarter, Euronav´s VLCCs in the Tankers International Pool have earned $34,000 per day with 49% of the available days fixed. Euronav’s suezmax fleet trading on the spot market has earned $34,000 per day on average with 52% of the available days fixed.

Maritime security company Ambrey has revealed recently that the ground invasion of Gaza has likely been delayed pending the repositioning of US naval assets, and the deployment of additional US air defences to Israel.

Shipping companies have also been advised to instruct vessels to wait further offshore than ordinarily given the risk of collateral damage at sea.

“Such an invasion is assessed to lead to the opening of the northern front. So far, no merchant vessels have been damaged by missile/rocket fire. The Israeli Iron Dome system is designed to protect civilian and critical national infrastructure, which makes this less likely,” Ambrey added.