With December now largely covered, the market has slowed down as it awaits January stem confirmations. In the Middle East Gulf rates have eased marginally from the WS 92.5 to Japan, paid earlier in the week by Tonen for 270,000 tonnes, as Idemitsu subsequently managed to fix further tonnage off 4 January at WS 88 which still gives owners a time charter equivalent of around $100,000 per day aided by the lower bunker prices. Going west, rates for 280,000 tonnes to the US Gulf are still hovering in the low WS 50s cape/cape, while WS 57.5 was done for Suez/Suez routing.
In West Africa, rates have eased around 2.5 WS points to settle at around WS 77.5 for China discharge as stem problems in Venezuela have led to some tonnage ballasting to West Africa. The uncertainty in the Caribbean has seen a decline here from $7.2/7.3 million down to around $6.9/6.95 million.
With charterers ‘drip-feeding’ the market in West Africa, rates have come under pressure and after starting the week at WS 80, we have seen a modest correction downwards with both WS 75 and WS 77.5 subsequently being achieved by Exxon and Total respectively.
Turkish straits delays are now around 7/8 days each way and this is supporting the Black Sea market where rates are hovering around WS 105 on 135,000 tonnes. Increased activity from the Mediterranean has also helped thin the list here with 135,000 tonnes from Ceyhan to UK-Cont-Med understood to have been fixed at WS 85-90. Fuel oil from Malta to Singapore is said to have been covered at around $3.6 million.
An active week combined with bad weather leading to closure of the Turkish straits earlier in the week, has led to a shortage of tonnage with a safe itinerary causing firmer rates from Ceyhan to WS120/122.5 level. The Black Sea rates moved in tandem up to WS 125, with WS 135 rumoured to have been paid for a replacement cargo.
In the North Sea, rates for 80,000 tonnes to the UK-Cont have been stable at WS 112.5 but with a slightly firmer feel now as Baltic rates have started to creep up from WS 80 with last done here for crude being now at around WS 82.5 with also a report of WS 85 having been agreed.
The 70,000 tonnes market for crude from the Caribbean has weakened considerably losing around 35 points as a lack of enquiry, combined with more tonnage coming free after ullage delays of up to even a month’s duration, saw rates settle now in the low/mid WS 120s.
With prompt tonnage on the Continent keen to get fixed, rates weakened to WS 125 for 55,000 tonnes to the US Gulf, but with the clear-out of the early ships there is a slightly firmer feel to the market with rates now being evaluated at between WS 127.5/130 level.
It has been an uneventful week for players in the market for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC, with levels holding steady between WS 117.5 and WS 120. In the 38,000 tonnes backhaul trade from the US Gulf, an active week for both long and short haul runs was not sufficient to clear out the healthy supply of tonnage and rates have drifted down around 10 points to now sit at WS 95.
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