The market in the Middle East Gulf started the week in the low WS 60s for long east but with a surge of fresh enquiry, including from West Africa, charterers found themselves chasing the market up. This was a result of both ullage and weather delays in the East which left a seriously depleted tonnage list and owners have now been able to push rates up to WS 95 for 270,000 tonnes basis Thailand discharge, with long east firming to close to WS 90 level and with the potential to rise further. The shortage of tonnage has also seen some charterers splitting VLCC cargoes and looking for suezmaxes instead. Similarly going west, rates to the US Gulf have increased 10 points to around WS 50 cape/cape for 280,000 tonnes cargo.
In West Africa, which is predominantly supplied by ballasters from Asia, the firming rates in the Gulf have as expected pushed rates up here and the last seen here was Unipec taking ‘Arion’ off 5/8 January at WS 80. Previously Petroineos took BW Bauhinia at WS 75 for China discharge, which at the time was up around 7.5 points from a week ago.
Petrochina are reported to have paid $7.3 million for Caribbean to Singapore, representing a gain of around $1.3 million from a week ago, although there has been less activity here, mainly on the back of stem problems in Venezuela.
A lack of enquiry from other areas saw improved tonnage availability in West Africa where rates have eased from the start of the week by around five points to settle at WS 80 for Europe discharge, although owners will be hoping the rising VLCC market may yet see charterers splitting cargoes and aiding their cause accordingly.
Despite Turkish straits delays, there has been a build-up of tonnage in the eastern Mediterranean. This saw Irving receive eight offers for a Sidi Kerir/Canaport run which was quickly fixed on Centrofin tonnage basis 130,000 tonnes at WS 67.5. Similarly Black Sea rates have eased around five points to settle now at WS 100. Going east, Sonatrach are reported to be on subjects at $3.75million for an Arzew/Thailand run off 1/2 January.
The market has remained steady in the Mediterranean/Black Sea at around WS 115/117.5 respectively. There was a softer rate of WS 105 done for a voyage from Sidi Kerir to Portugal but this was on ice class tonnage looking ultimately to reposition itself in the Baltic, hence the attractive rate for the charterer.
In the North Sea, rates for 80,000 tonnes to the UK-Cont started the weak slightly softer at WS 110 level but rates have crept up modestly with WS 112.5 being done and WS 117.5 fixed and failed on subjects. Baltic rates have remained static at around WS 90.
The start of the week saw the market firm to WS 180 level with charterers needing to replace late tonnage. Thereafter charterers worked discreetly and with more tonnage coming available with safe itineraries, the market has eased with 70,000 tonnes from Caribs to the US Gulf now understood to be on subjects at WS 165.
Off the Continent, the market is looking tight for 55,000 tonnes to the US Gulf and is today assessed in the low/mid WS 130s down around remained 5/7.5 points but with the Caribbean market easing to WS 170/172.5 for 50,000 tonnes up coast, owners may be more tempted to ballast across and improve the supply of tonnage in ARA.
Strong levels of enquiry have seen the market for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC gain around five points to sit now at WS 122.5. In contrast, enquiry in the 38,000 tonnes backhaul trade from the US Gulf, for both transatlantic and also local destinations has been light and has been in steady decline with the market losing around 15 points to settle at WS 105.
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