In the Middle East Gulf, owners have enjoyed another successful week with rates for 270,000 tonnes being covered at WS 80/83 level for Singapore-Japan respectively giving owners a return above $80,000 per day, and their highest returns of the year. December has been a busy month with around 130 fixtures concluded and the overhang of tonnage in to January is light. That said, the feeling is there is tonnage prepared to maybe ‘grab the money and run’ which would appear to be borne out by a couple of vessels reportedly agreeing WS 70 for China discharge. For 280,000 tonnes to the US Gulf, levels today are being evaluated at WS 36 cape/cape – representing an increase of three points from the end of last week.
The firm market in The Middle East Gulf has been felt in West Africa where at the start of the week, rates were in the low WS 70s and today are seen around WS 70 level for the 260,000 tonne West Africa/China run, although a Thai Oil re-let is reported to have done WS 68.5 for 24-26 January loading. Off the continent, a fuel oil cargo has been covered at $5.3million for Rotterdam/Singapore, while a Hound Point/South Korea trip is understood to be on subjects at $7.125 million. In the Caribbean, rates are also holding up well with levels still around $7.25 million for Singapore discharge.
In West Africa, an active week saw rates move up quickly from WS 75 at the end of last week to around WS 87.5/90 today aided by Total who took five ships all reported at WS 90. With a number of cargoes outstanding, the market has a firm feel to it at the moment.
In the Black Sea, Turkish Straits delays have increased to between five to seven days each way and the active suezmax market has seen rates rise quickly from WS 85 a week ago to WS 110/115. Sustained activity for fuel oil from both Black Sea and North West Europe is helping thin the tonnage list, while long haul activity from the Caribbean additionally takes its toll on the West Africa positions.
In the Mediterranean, rates have crashed. After starting the week in the low WS 120s, we are now looking at levels of barely WS 100. This has come about from a lengthy tonnage list, not aided by the declaration of force majeure at Ras Lanuf and Es Sider which has only added further tonnage. Although the Turkish Straits delays have increased, recent forward fixing by charterers has led to reduced enquiry on the nearby, and a further softening in sentiment with the market remaining under downward pressure.
In the Baltic, rates have firmed as charterers have looked to gain coverage over the Christmas period and we are now looking at levels of WS 95 for 100,000 tonne cargoes here while the 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has moved in tandem with the Baltic to stand now at WS 122.5.
The Caribbean/up coast market for 70,000 tonne cargoes has struggled and after starting the week at WS112.5, charterers have managed to squeeze rates down to barely WS 102.5.
Levels for 55,000 tonnes to the US Gulf have been firm and stable with both WS 135 and 137.5 being agreed as the final December cargoes are covered.
MRs on the Continent going transatlantic for 37,000 tonnes have eased and the smart owners, sensing the softening over the Christmas/New Year period, accepted first counters at WS 195. Rates have now slipped further with WS 185 now being on subjects.
In the US Gulf, the market for 38,000 tonne cargoes has been stable, hovering between WS 145/150 all week.