As the November program draws to a close, it has been another slow week. Rates have continued to ease on the back of a light November which has led to a significant overhang of tonnage going into December. Fixtures for 270,000 tonne cargoes from Middle East Gulf to Singapore have been around the WS 50 level while going west basis 280,000 tonnes for US Gulf discharge has been covered at WS 28 basis cape/cape. The strong suezmax market in West Africa has led to significantly improved activity for VLCCs going to Europe as charterers look to co-freight and endeavour to take the steam out of the suezmaxes. A number of trips to UK-Cont-Med being fixed at between WS 72.5 – 80 level. For the regular 260,000 tonne runs to China rates have been assessed around WS 53 though it has to be said that almost everything done here this week has been covered under COA. The Caribbean east run has stayed firm at around $6.4/6.5m for Singapore.
In West Africa, levels for 130,000 tonne cargoes have shot up as tight tonnage and a firm bullish sentiment saw a 50/60 point hike in rates from this time last week. The last we saw here were both Cepsa and Petrogal paying WS 152.5 for relatively short runs to Spain/Portugal respectively and Petrobras covered at WS 145 for Brazil discharge. The very firm levels have encouraged VLCC fixing from West Africa thus taking out a number of suezmax stems. There is a feeling levels might have peaked as current fixture levels are either the same rate or even marginally softer.
The Black Sea has likewise firmed significantly with the week’s high of WS 166.5 being paid by ENI although the feeling was that this was a ‘one-off’ fixture. As in West Africa rate increments were of 15/20 points each time. With Turkish straits delays increasing significantly to around a week each way and uncertain berthing prospects and itineraries for tonnage having to go through Trieste, this has led to the big spike in rates which today are in the low WS 150s for 135,000 tonnes. There also still remains interest for fuel oil from Black Sea and UK-Cont-Baltic going to Singapore which is helping thin the tonnage lists.
In the Mediterranean and Black Sea it has been a mirror image of what has happened for the suezmaxes and rates for cross-Med have seemingly settled around WS 220/225 level. A Black Sea cargo fixed and failed at WS 237.5 – where the aframaxes have benefited here is the increase in rates on the suezmaxes which has meant they have not been competing for aframax stems.
In the Baltic, rates for 100,000 tonne cargoes have firmed and now seemingly settled around WS 112.5 and for 80,000 tonnes cross North Sea, the last done was WS 130.
The Caribbean/up coast market for 70,000 tonne cargoes has suffered from a build-up of tonnage and rates have eased significantly here from a previously settled WS 165, with the last done here now being at WS147.5.
It has been largely status quo here with rates appearing settled at WS 132.5 for 55,000 tonnes to the US Gulf.
MRs on the Continent going transatlantic for 37,000 tonnes had been stable in the mid WS 140s but a clear out of tonnage on the Continent aided also by regular activity for West Africa discharge has seen rates jump significantly with the last done transatlantic being at WS 170.
In the US Gulf, the market has held steady at WS 130 level, so although there is no shortage of tonnage there, wintry weather in USA and a firmer Cont/transatlantic market is helping maintain current rates.