For VLCC owners it has been another positive week in all areas. In the Middle East Gulf, short trips to Thailand have been covered at both WS 85 and subsequently WS 83, while long east trips have gone at between WS 71 and WS 75 all basis 270,000 tonnes. For a straight US Gulf run, without other options, rates for 280,000 tonnes have been hovering around WS 47.5/48 cape/cape.
In West Africa, at the start of the week Athina went at WS 69 for 260,000 tonnes to China, thereafter rates nudged up and have held steady in the very low WS 70s. The Caribbean/Singapore run has benefitted from the firm sentiment. There was a deal concluded by Vitol at $6.5 million but this was for tonnage ex dry dock. Subsequently, Chinese charterers have been very active here and after $7.0 million was done twice, Athenian tonnage pushed the market further obtaining $7.3 million.
Off the Continent, Petroineos are understood to be on subjects on Dar Salwa at $6.0 million for a fuel oil run from Rotterdam to Singapore.
In West Africa, it has been a volatile market – end May/early June cargoes put charterers under pressure and Petrogal finally re-fixed at WS 130 while a short trip to South Africa went at WS 152.5. However, after ‘ the ‘tricky’ positions were covered, rates for end first decade June have eased with WS 110 now agreed by Repsol for Spain discharge. Another South Africa cargo subsequently went at WS 125, while P66 are understood to be on subjects at WS 97.5 to the US Gulf or EC Canada option at WS 100.
In the Black Sea, enquiry has been slow, with the only reported fixture being Gazprom taking Petalidi off 5 June at WS 135 basis 140,000 tonnes cargo. However with a gap in the programme and West Africa softening significantly, brokers expect rates here to ease.
The Mediterranean has firmed dramatically. Having started the week in the high WS 90s, rates soared, with a high of WS 160 being agreed on subjects for a replacement cargo from Ceyhan for 28 May loading. Earlier ENI were reported to have agreed WS 137.5 for 2 June position, while Statoil off 29 May are understood to have paid WS 150, with the same level paid by Chevtex for very end May loading from Black Sea. However with the long weekend looming and the tonnage list replenishing for early June, rates may come under downward pressure.
Rates from the Baltic for 100,000 tonnes have been volatile – the week started in the high WS 80s before reaching a peak of WS 125 as replacement cargoes paid a premium. Subsequently rates have eased again with levels back in the very low WS 100s. The North Sea has mirrored the swings in the Baltic with rates starting the week at WS 105 for 80,000 tonnes. OMV had to pay WS 170 for crude from Kaarstoe, but that would appear to have been a ‘one-off’ as levels have quickly settled back at WS 140 level.
In the Caribbean, the market for 70,000 tonnes going up coast has been steady at WS 115 with shorter hauls from Mexico achieving 5/10 point premiums. Lightering business has also helped thin the tonnage list here and it remains to be seen if the strong North Sea market may entice ballasters across from USAC/EC Canada.
The market has again held steady here throughout the week at around WS 122.5 from Continent to US Gulf for 55,000 tonnes. However with very limited tonnage availability and the aframax market strong making them uncompetitive, there is the potential for rates to firm here.
It has been a good week for owners here with rates for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC gaining around WS 25 points to reach a peak of WS 190. However, with the fixing window moving in to early June and with a number of ships still available prior to then, there is now a softer feel to the market.
Rates for 38,000 tonnes from the US Gulf have been on a steady decline throughout the week having eased from WS 120 down to WS 105, though again here, the majority of the enquiry has been for Central and South America discharge.
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