In the Middle East Gulf, there was an initial dip in the market as the Easter holidays took their toll – long East trips went at WS 48/48.5 level at the start of the week. However with a healthy level of enquiry as charterers started working third decade positions and a more balanced position list, the market turned around quickly with rates firstly increasing to WS 55 for China as Shell took the Apolytares and Vitol paid 57.5 basis Singapore discharge. Subsequently Thai charterers have now twice paid WS 65 for Thailand discharge, all basis 270,000 tonnes cargo size. Going West, rates for the US Gulf have similarly firmed and after an option of the US Gulf discharge was agreed at WS 30.5 cape/cape, today brokers are assessing the market at between WS 31/32 level.
Rates for 260,000 West Africa to China have moved in step with the firmer market in the Middle East Gulf – initially rates rose modestly with both WS 52 and WS 53 being agreed. Further increases were seen as Unipec took Maran Castor at WS 57.5 while Vitol took Dynacom tonnage at WS 65 for a shorter trip to Cilacap.
Off the Continent, Clearlake paid $4.7 million for fuel oil from Rotterdam to Singapore. The last reported for Caribbean/Singapore is at $5.95 million, while a US Gulf/Singapore run is understood to have been covered at $5.4 million.
Although West Africa has been busy this week with around 20 fixtures concluded in a short week, sheer volume of tonnage lead to charterers being able to squeeze owners and rates dropped from WS 75 at the end of last week down to WS 67.5 for European discharge while WS 65 was agreed for the US Gulf.
Owners’ cause is not being helped by a weaker market in the Middle East Gulf, meaning owners with tonnage east of Suez have been predominantly focusing on the West Africa market leading to more competition and placing the market under renewed pressure.
In the Black Sea, it has been a slow week and rates have edged down from WS 80 to WS 77.5 as Vitol covered on Pegasus for 140,000 tonnes from Novorossisk. Solal are understood to have fixed Heydar Aliyev for fuel oil to Singapore, but no rate has come to hand here. There is at least interest for long haul business from the Mediterranean and a Sidi Kerir to Ningbo trip went at $3.5 million, with other tonnage rumoured on subjects for east discharge.
The Mediterranean has been under pressure this week with the Easter holidays leading to further build-up of tonnage here. Activity has largely been off market with charterers able to pick off suitable tonnage accordingly. Repsol are understood to have paid WS 92.5 for a Sidi Kerir/Spain run while Ceyhan has been paying around WS 97.5/100 and Libya around WS 107.5/110. Black Sea rates have generally been hovering around WS 100.
In the Baltic, at the start of the week rates for 100,000 tonnes no heat dropped below the WS 100 level and settled at WS 97.5, where they have remained. However ENI have now paid WS 115 but this was for relatively early loading of 15/16 April, as their own ship has been delayed and is unclear if can make the position. However after ENI went on subjects, four more deals have been concluded all at WS 97.5.
The 80,000 tonne cross North Sea market dropped from WS 115 down to WS 105 at the start of the week, but rates would appear to be recovering again as BP tonnage achieved WS 115 from P66 for Sture loading.
In the Caribbean, the market for 70,000 tonnes going up coast has finally bowed to the inevitable as a lack of enquiry and strong build-up of tonnage left charterers able to pick and choose. Rates have come off around 35 WS points and are now sitting at WS 157.5
The market from the Continent to the US Gulf has been steady with rates marginally firmer at WS 115 for 55,000 tonnes. A clear out of early tonnage, aided also by a firmer Caribbean Panamax market enticing more tonnage to stay local, has led to less supply of ballasters looking to play the Continent market.
The market for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC has been steady this week with the market holding at WS 140. By contrast it has been a somewhat more volatile week on the 38,000 tonne backhaul route from the US Gulf to UK-Cont. Rates initially continued to slide down to low/mid WS 70s, but then sheer volume of tonnage being fixed from the US Gulf, including to South and Central America, helped thin the tonnage list somewhat and there is now a report of a firmer WS 90 having been agreed.
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