In the Middle East Gulf, rates peaked, with WS 72.5 said to have been fixed by SPC for a short run to Singapore. It was also reported that WS 70 fixed to Malacca. Levels for long haul east cargoes have subsequently eased and been covered at WS 68.5 to Korea and WS 66.5 to China by Mercuria and Unipec respectively, all basis 270,000 tonnes cargo. At these numbers, owners are still seeing TCEs close to $70,000 daily. Going west, the rate for 280,000 tonnes to US Gulf cape/cape is still hovering at around WS 38/39 giving owners a TCE of around $31,000 per day.
In West Africa, rates have been stable and for the benchmark 260,000 tonnes to China, the last fixed here was Unipec taking the ‘Brightoil Gravity’ at WS 68, while Petroineos are understood to be still open and had been firm at WS 66 to tonnage at WS 71.
Off the Continent both $6.0m and $6.25 million have been paid for fuel oil from Rotterdam to Singapore, while the Caribs/Singapore run has held steady at $7.0 million.
Meantime, with the oil price having fallen to mid/high $40s per barrel, the interest for VLCC storage continues unabated and it is rumoured so far around 20 ships have been concluded for storage deals with period up to 12 months, with rates varying between $35,000 to $42,500 daily.
In West Africa, rates have largely held steady throughout the week at WS 92.5 for UK-Cont discharge while in the Black Sea rates have edged down modestly from WS 110 to close to WS 105. In the Mediterranean, Bahri split a VLCC cargo and took two Gungen ships for 135,000 tonnes to Rotterdam at WS 87.5 and 90 while good levels of enquiry and fixing for long haul trips from Caribbean, Med and Black Sea going east have helped thin the tonnage lists.
In the Mediterranean, a clear out of the early tonnage and sustained enquiry has seen rates rise with WS 112.5 having been agreed for Black Sea loading and Minerva tonnage obtained WS 107.5 for Libya loading. There remains further upward pressure here as bad weather and uncertainty on itineraries for tonnage in Trieste take their toll.
In the Baltic, rates for ice class tonnage firmed significantly from WS 145 for 100,000 tonnes to WS 160/162.5, while the 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has benefited from the stronger Baltic market and has edged up to WS 127.5/130 level.
In the Caribbean, for 70,000 tonnes going up coast, rates have continued to increase on the back of healthy enquiry and poor weather and the market has risen 10 points to WS 150. With limited tonnage availability there remains potential for further firming.
It has been a good week for Panamax owners. In the Caribbean the market has continued to firm with levels here rising to WS 145 for 50,000 tonnes and this has led to ballasters for Uk-Cont fixing locally instead. Subsequently, with healthy levels of enquiry on the UK-Cont, rates have risen to WS 145 for 55,000 tonne cargoes to the US Gulf with talk of owners now aiming at WS 150 for early February position.
Despite some increased activity on the TC2 routes, rates have remained fairly similar over the week at around WS 147 level for 37,000 tonnes.
Although the 38,000 tonne backhaul route from US Gulf to UK-Cont has been less active this week, rates here appear stable at WS 95 thanks to steady enquiry and fixing to Brazil and West coast Central America, which has been absorbing much of the tonnage.