In the Middle East Gulf, rates have remained under pressure as the February program is completed. March fixing so far has been slow and the owners’ cause is not being helped by Chinese New Year celebrations. Although there was a fixture reported at WS 52 basis 270,000 tonnes, this was for a trip to South Korea with good terms. Otherwise levels are holding at around WS 57/58 for Singapore-Japan runs while Bahri fixed at WS 31 cape/cape for 280,000 tonnes to the US Gulf. Brokers feel that with patience, owners with well approved tonnage have the potential to stem further falls as the tonnage list up to the end of the first decade of March is looking tight and delays in China are creating uncertainty on vessels’ itineraries.
Rates for 260,000 West Africa to China have eased modestly as levels move in tandem with the Middle East Gulf. The last seen here was Petroineos reportedly paying WS 58 for Shinyo Saowalak for a China run. Off the Continent the Al Salmi is now reported to have taken a BP cargo from Hound Point to Korea at $8 million. Although enquiry has been slow, shortage of tonnage in the Caribbean means trips to Singapore runs are still holding at around $7.4 million.
Although P66 had to pay WS 82.5 to the US Gulf for a replacement cargo loading 22 February, rates from West Africa have in general moved sideways with US Gulf discharge being covered at WS 72.5. There is also a report of Tesoro taking the Pecos for a trip to Chiriquigrande at WS 70. For UK-Cont-Med discharge, levels remain largely unchanged at around WS 77.5 . One glimmer of hope for owners is that the Caribbean has been very active both for up coast, transatlantic and long haul trips to the East, so this is at least helping thin the West Africa list, as has steady demand for fuel oil from the Continent.
Despite weather delays in the Mediterranean and also Novorossisk which was closed at the start of the week, Black Sea rates have continued to slide and would now appear to have settled at around WS 80 for 135,000 tonnes cargo quantity.
In the Mediterranean, it has been another disappointing week for owners. Normally with bad weather, Turkish straits delays and Trieste berth maintenance, these would be the ideal ingredients for the market to push up but a dearth of enquiry has seen tonnage build up and charterers have been able to sit back and watch levels drop further to WS 90/95 with Black Sea aframax rates also at WS 95 level. Owners with tonnage in the west Med may yet be tempted to look at Caribbean business, otherwise it looks like charterers remaining in the driving seat.
In the Baltic, rates for 100,000 tonnes no heat softened modestly at the start of the week down to WS 85, but have now recovered lost ground back to where they were and presently sit at WS 90 level. The 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has been steady at around WS 97.5.
The Caribbean market for 70,000 tonnes going up coast has continued to firm as weather delays and ullage problems have taken their toll and tonnage with a safe itinerary is at a premium. A replacement cargo went at WS 197.5, otherwise market levels sit between WS 175/180 for natural dates.
The market from Continent to the US Gulf has remained under pressure as coa business and own program has left little for market tonnage to look at. Although there is only limited tonnage for February, the dearth of enquiry sees levels being evaluated at around WS 130 for 55,000 tonnes.
The arb for gasoil and gasoline opened up this week. Very cold weather on US East Coast and a flood of enquiry which quickly thinned out the tonnage list saw rates for 37,000 tonnes from Continent/USAC surge from WS 105 a week ago to WS 140.
At the start of the week, the 38,000 tonne backhaul route from US Gulf to UK-Cont initially dipped down to WS 55 level, but on the back of a firming Continent market, rates have started to recover and presently sit at around WS 67.5.
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