At the start of the week, rates in the Middle East Gulf went in to freefall as a combination of surplus tonnage and a light February programme took their toll. With the oil price up around $10 a barrel, storage interest would appear to have waned and a number of ships taken on timecharter appeared as relets. S-Oil managed to cover 280,000 tonnes at WS 46.5, and a second vessel at WS 47.5 for Onsan discharge though this was on tonnage with no SIRE. With the softer market enticing other charterers there was a significant shift in momentum which led to a recovery of rates to high WS 50s for Singapore-Japan discharge, while going west the 280,000 tonne market to US Gulf has recovered modestly to sit today at around WS 35.
In West Africa for the benchmark 260,000 tonnes to China, rates followed the Middle East Gulf market and after Hemsedal Spirit went at WS 57.5, levels eased further to around WS 55 but would appear to be regaining lost ground and are now hovering close to WS 57.5. Off the Continent, rates have remained steady, with BP paying $6.3 million for a Rotterdam/Singapore run.
The Caribbean/east market remains the most attractive for owners, though rates have eased marginally down to $7.4 million for Singapore discharge.
In West Africa, owners have enjoyed a good week with rates continuing their upward trend from the end of last week. WS 100 has been done on more than one occasion, although there is now a rumour of WS 93 having just been agreed. The Black Sea market benefitted from the stronger West Africa market and Turkish straits delays increasing to around nine days each way. Unipec paid WS 105 basis 140,000 tonnes cargo. Thereafter though, as charterers looked that bit further ahead to ensure a safe position for their laycans, the market eased back and the last done here is now 135,000 tonnes at WS 100.
In the Mediterranean, owners have been firmly in the driving seat with rates jumping sharply up now to WS 200. A combination of bad weather and an increase in Turkish straits delays have combined to put charterers under pressure as they seek tonnage with a reliable itinerary. There was even higher paid – namely WS 240, but this was for Libya loading. Last done from Black Sea is reported at WS 212.5. The strong Med market has encouraged ballasters from Continent as well as suezmaxes to play the market here as have clean LR2 vessels which brokers feel may take some steam out of the market as this tonnage helps repopulate the list.
In the Baltic, rates have turned around and after starting the week at a steady WS 85, have now risen to WS 100 while the 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has been largely unchanged at around WS 105.
In the Caribbean, for 70,000 tonnes going up coast, an active week has seen rates increase markedly as prompt tonnage has thinned out and levels have risen quickly to WS 145, giving owners a tce of around $43500 per day.
The market from Continent to US Gulf has held steady here at WS 147.5 basis 55,000 tonnes.
Owners have had to face another tough week here with levels for 37,000 tonnes from Continent/USAC stagnant at WS 115, and West Africa discharge paying WS 135. The 38,000 tonne backhaul route from US Gulf to UK-Cont has slumped to WS 50. There was even a fixture done at WS 45 but this was for a ship which had to reposition and come back across.
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