In the Middle East Gulf, charterers have largely held the upper hand. Rates dipped down to WS 48 to China and there was even one deal done at WS 45 but this is understood to have been on a ‘handicapped ship’ with limited approvals so brokers feel this was not a true reflection of the market.
Subsequently, levels have been hovering around WS 50 for long east discharge and around WS 51.5/52 for shorter hauls to Singapore/Thailand. Petronas did pay WS 55 for a run to Malacca but this was for a voyage with technical requirements which may thus have limited the charterer’s choice. Going west, rates have also been under pressure with Bahri covering at WS 25.25 basis cape/cape routing.
Rates for 260,000 West Africa to China softened further as the impact of the slow market in the Middle East Gulf filtered through. Unipec took the Maran Triton at WS 49, representing a drop from last week of three points.
Off the Continent, fuel oil softened further with Trafigura understood to have possibly covered on Sifa at $4.8 million. Previously SK had paid $5.1 million and Front Kathrine agreed $4.95 million, though here the charterers are understood to be paying port costs at loadport. The Caribbean/Singapore-China trade has again seen very little enquiry though there was a fuel oil deal done at $6.2 million from US Gulf/Singapore.
In West Africa, the market firmed at the start of the week as rates rose from WS 82.5 to WS 87.5 and finally to a high of WS 90 as activity increased markedly. However, as charterers latterly held off, their tactics seem to have been successful as a trip to Canada went at WS 87.5 while a cargo for Europe enticed six offers and is also now reported to have gone on subjects at WS 87.5.
In the Black Sea, the market strengthened as a firmer West Africa market and steady enquiry for long haul runs with both crude and fuel from Med and Black Sea helped thin the tonnage list. Libyan exports also were slightly up. The last reported from Black Sea to Europe was Triathlon agreeing WS 97.5 on 140,000 tonnes for Gazprom, while a Black Sea/Singapore run went at $3.3 million.
The Mediterranean had a frenetic start to the week with strong activity from Ceyhan and bad weather leading to a number of replacement cargoes. For non replacement business rates rose quickly to WS 140/145 as tonnage with a safe itinerary went at a premium. Midweek, things calmed down and there are now reported to be four or five prompt ships available in the Mediterranean and with the tonnage list looking healthier again, brokers feel that rates will come under downward pressure.
In the Baltic, rates for 100,000 tonnes no heat, rose modestly to WS 80 despite the lifting of all ice restrictions from 23 March as a thin tonnage list and renewed fuel oil enquiry created upward momentum. The 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market has remained unchanged at WS 95.
In the Caribbean, the market for 70,000 tonnes going up coast has undoubtedly been the star performer for owners this week. Fog and weather delays lead to replacement cargoes and this saw rates jump quickly from WS 130 up to WS 175 and they have continued to firm as strong levels of enquiry have enabled owners to now achieve levels of WS 197.5.
The market from Continent to the US Gulf has been slow with rates struggling at around WS 110 for 55,000 tonnes. With a couple of ships left for first decade April, the immediate outlook is for status quo to be maintained. However with the Caribs panamax market firming, there may subsequently be some small encouragement for owners with less tonnage inclined to ballast over from USA to play this market.
The market for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC has been very volatile this week. An initial fall to the low WS 150s saw more enquiry come to the fore which helped push rates back up WS 165, but then some ships failed on subjects and the market fell back again and presently sits at around WS 157.5.
Although the 38,000 tonne backhaul route from the US Gulf to UK-Cont has again been slow this week, healthy levels of enquiry have been maintained for predominantly Canada, the Caribbean or South America discharge which has left a thin tonnage list. The last done here for transatlantic is understood to be at a healthy WS 150.
For daily tanker market assessments from the Baltic Exchange please visit www.balticexchange.com/market-information/