With open tonnage building up and fewer cargoes available, Middle East Gulf rates have been under pressure. In the last month it seems over 30 vessels have fixed on timecharter basis for various short to long term periods, with some now being marketed on the spot market. Although levels of WS 69/69.5 were reported paid for 270,000 tonnes to Singapore/China respectively, subsequent tonnage has shown a willingness to conclude at WS 65, but some say the owners may struggle to achieve even this level. Going West, 280,000 tonnes was covered by Bahri but no rate is yet reported although previously the cape/cape rate had been assessed as between WS 37/38.
Rates in West Africa for the benchmark 260,000 tonnes to China are looking softer with tonnage apparently aiming at low/mid WS 60s. Brokers suggest this level may yet come under further downward pressure. Elsewhere it is the Caribbean/east market which dominates proceedings with tonnage ballasting from the Continent, maintaining a firmer tone as charterers continue to have to look a month ahead for tonnage. Both $7.65 and $7.95 million having been paid for Singapore discharge.
In West Africa rates fell away quickly with WS 75 and WS77.5 being paid for US Gulf and USAC respectively. However rates are on their way back up again with Petrogal taking tonnage at both WS 80 and also WS 82.5. Latterly ENI are understood to have paid WS 87.5 for the Astro Perseus, having originally fixed and failed on subjects at 12.5 points less. The Black Sea has regained some lost ground and WS 85 is understood to have been paid by Transway for Minerva tonnage, on a larger quantity of 140,000 tonnes.
There was an active start to the week in the Mediterranean which enabled owners to halt the slide with WS 115 being agreed. Thereafter some tricky cargoes with tight dates saw WS 120 paid and a short voyage from Algeria eventually went at WS 145. With Black Sea subsequently being fixed at WS 130, owners can at least be cautiously optimistic.
In the Baltic, rates have continued to head south with ice class requirements now paying WS 85 for 100,000 tonnes while the 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has been dragged down in sympathy, with levels here having eased down to WS 105.
Rates have dropped for Caribbs upcoast 70,000 tonnes from WS 137.5 down to WS 120 as a lengthening tonnage list and a lack of enquiry take their toll. That said, these WS rates are still showing approximate tce of around $31,500 daily.
Although levels here eased slightly with WS 147.5 now on subjects for Cont/US Gulf, basis 55,000 tonnes, a strong Caribs/up coast panamax market is enticing tonnage to stay local rather than ballast and brokers feel charterers will now have their work cut out to repeat this number.
It has been a tough week for owners as the market dropped sharply from WS 130 down to barely WS 115 but a thinning of tonnage and improved levels of enquiry have helped stem the fall and with some outstanding enquiry, there is again a slightly firmer sentiment in the market. The 38,000 tonne backhaul route from US Gulf to UK-Cont is on its knees with levels having crashed from WS 80 a week ago down to WS 55.
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