In the Middle East Gulf, the New Year started with good activity leading to rates for 270,000 tonnes going east increasing from WS 60 to a shade above WS 70. With bunker prices continuing to fall, this is a timecharter equivalent of about $70,000 per day. Going west, rates have likewise firmed and although Trafigura are reported to have paid WS 41 cape/cape for 280,000 tonnes from Basrah, it is said charters also have short haul options included which would likely make a slight premium apply. For a straight US Gulf run, brokers reckon today the level is around WS 38.
In West Africa, rates have firmed on the back of a stronger Middle East Gulf market and for the benchmark 260,000 tonnes to China, the rate yesterday was WS 67.58 which is up over WS6 this week. For a shorter voyage to Indonesia, Shell reportedly took Front Serenade at WS 67.5. Fuel oil from the Continent has been active with the last seen here being Cerigo agreeing $5.5 million for a Rotterdam/Singapore run with charterers paying port costs load port, while for a crude run from Hound Point to Korea, $7 million has been paid. In the Caribbean levels are still hovering at $7/7.2 million for Singapore discharge.
One interesting development has been a surge of enquiry from traders for VLCC tonnage for storage as the crude oil price has dropped to around $50 per barrel and with rumours today that Vitol have taken the ULCC TI Oceania 441,000 deadweight for 12 months storage at $40,000 per day, while the Front Falcon of 308,000 deadweight is reported for three option three months storage at $55,000 per day. The market feeling is that with the low oil price, there could be very significant amounts of tonnage taken for storage in due course.
In West Africa, rates dropped significantly at the start of the week, falling from around WS 105 and have now bottomed out at WS 92.5 which has been repeated several times, but there is now again a firmer sentiment in the market, aided also by an active Caribbean/transatlantic market. In the Black Sea rates quickly dropped from low WS 120s to WS 100 but here also rates have started to climb again, with the last seen here being Centrofin tonnage covering a Transway cargo at WS 110 basis 140,000 tonnes.
In the Mediterranean, it has been a tough week for owners – rates dipped from previous levels of WS 92.5 to WS 87.5 but after healthy levels of enquiry helped clear out a lot of the early tonnage, levels have crept back to stand at between WS 90/92.5.
In the Baltic, rates have firmed from low WS 130s at the start of the week for 100,000 tonnes to WS 145, as the ice season gets started, while the 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has remained steady all week around the WS 120 level.
In the Caribbean, for 70,000 tonnes going up coast, rates have continued to firm as a combination of healthy enquiry and also poor weather put tonnage with a safe itinerary in the box seat and levels have firmed 10 points to sit at WS 140 with any charterers needing to fix today likely to face very bullish owners.
Status quo here as levels for 55,000 tonnes to the US Gulf have been holding steady at WS 132.5/135.
Despite an active week, MRs on the Continent going transatlantic for 37,000 tonnes have eased, with recent rates being fixed region WS 147 which is down from WS 175 a week ago. While the market for 38,000 tonne cargoes USG to Continent continues to soften, standing at around WS 90 and remains under downward pressure.