It has been a better week for owners with tonnage in the Middle East Gulf, as a flurry of enquiry at the start of the week saw first decade February tonnage thin out. Owners regained some lost ground and rates jumped up initially around 12 points to settle now in the mid WS 70s for 270,000 tonnes going long east. Rates for going west have nudged back up to around WS 48 for 280,000 tonnes. There is however, still a significant overhang of January tonnage including older tonnage, newbuildings and ex dry dock vessels, which brokers feel will help keep a lid on rates for charterers willing to fix such tonnage.
In West Africa, the market has made a modest recovery with rates to China up around 5 points to WS 74/75 and a run to EC India went at $4.55 million, whereas at end of last week $4.1 million was paid here. Off the Continent, fuel oil was fixed on a newbuilding from Rotterdam to Singapore at $5.3 million. In the Caribbean, ST are understood to have taken DHT Ann for Singapore discharge at $6.5 million with Glasford said to have paid $8.0 million for mid China discharge.
On the period front, there is a report of Total taking newbuilding Alice for 6 months trading at $62,000 daily.
The steady activity on the VLCCs in West Africa (with charterers working well ahead on dates) has put considerable pressure on suezmaxes here and increased the available tonnage list, consequently rates fell over 10 points to WS 85 for Europe discharge. The knock on effect of this was evident with weaker Black Sea rates which were also affected by Turkish straits delays of around 4 days each way. Levels are now around WS 100/102.5 in contrast to the low WS 120s at the start of the week. Even a short Algeria/Portugal trip went at WS 102.5. Irving took SKS Sinni for 135,000 tonnes from Ceyhan to Canaport at WS 75, while going east, a Ceyhan/Kochi replacement cargo is understood to have seen several offers before being covered at $2.5 million.
In the Mediterranean, plenty of prompt tonnage saw the market weaken significantly and a Sidi Kerir/Med run was covered at WS 87.5, while a CPC load cargo went at WS 95, representing drops of around 12.5 WS points from a week ago. Even though there has been some longer haul business concluded, brokers feel it will need a significant uptick in enquiry before rates start to improve.
A slow week In the North Sea saw rates ease around 2.5 points to WS 110, while in the Baltic relets have pressurized rates with the market flat at around WS 90, down around 2 points with the freezing temperatures and ice restrictions having no impact so far.
The Caribbean market has been steady around WS 127.5 level, although with the recent lull in activity and delays in the US Gulf easing, brokers feel the market may come under pressure prior to the February program getting going.
Tonnage has been building off the Continent with charterers aiming to break WS 140 basis 55,000 tonnes from ARA back to US Gulf.
With plenty of tonnage to choose from, charterers have been able to pull rates down around 15 WS points to sit now at WS 140 for 37,000 tonnes from the Continent to USAC, and the feeling is that with plenty of ice class tonnage around, owners need to be wary of pinning their hopes on the ice traders helping to push levels up.
Rates for 38,000 tonnes from US Gulf to UK-Cont have continued to drop with the market losing 20 points to WS 80 which was fixed a number of times. Even with good levels of demand from the US Gulf, including for shorthaul trade to Central and South America, the market remains under pressure and is now being assessed at barely WS 70.
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