It has been a demanding week for owners of VLCC tonnage in the Middle East Gulf, as charterers were drip-feeding the market with enquiry, leading to rates falling back. Those charterers able to take older tonnage managed to cover in the mid WS 50S for 270,000 tonnes going long east, while S-Oil are understood to have covered 280,000 tonnes to Onsan at WS 53. However as the week draws to a close some brokers are suggesting perhaps the market has bottomed out, with a couple of Korean trips now reported covered at WS 61.5 and WS 62 respectively. Going west, rates have continued to ease significantly, down from WS 48 a week ago to WS 32 cape/cape which was paid by Valero for US Gulf discharge.
In West Africa, the market has moved in tandem with the Middle East Gulf and rates have slipped around five points to settle now at WS 65 for China discharge. In the Mediterranean, Bahri covered 280,000 tonnes from Sidi Kerir to Rotterdam at WS 72, while in the North Sea, Shell took Hakata from Hound Point to South Korea at $6.75 million. Fuel oil rates from Rotterdam have eased further with $4.9 million reported fixed and failed, whereas $5.3 million had been done end of last week. The Caribbean has continued to be a relatively safe haven for owners with rates to Singapore hovering between $6.5 and $6.7 million.
Despite an active week in West Africa, sheer volume of tonnage saw rates ease further with a run to the US Gulf reportedly covered at WS 75 while trips to the Continent lost around five points to around WS 80. It has been a similar story in the Black Sea with rates easing from WS 90 to WS 85. In the Mediterranean, Cepsa were said to have taken Aegean tonnage for 135,000 tonnes at WS 85 for a trip to Spain, while a Ceyhan/WC India run was covered at $2.0 million.
In the Mediterranean, plenty of prompt tonnage at the start of the week saw rates nudge below WS 90.The softer rates enticed some charterers into the market and with a lot of ships subsequently removed from the list, rates have recovered modestly to WS 90/92.5 and Black Sea rates crept back up from WS 90 to WS 95 level.
In the North Sea saw rates have held steady at WS 107.5/110 basis 80,000 tonnes cargo. The Baltic 100,000 tonnes stems initially maintained levels of WS 95, before a tricky requirement saw owners capitalize with low WS 120s said to have been paid for a trip south. This enabled owners to push rates up, and with the ice tonnage relatively thin, the market has firmed to around WS 105/107.5.
The Caribbean market lost around 12.5 points as a slow start to the week coupled with a healthy tonnage list took its toll. With the market softer, more enquiry came into the market enabling owners to at least maintain levels at WS 107.5 level, and with firmer sentiment from owners encouraged by the uptick in enquiry, brokers feel rates could start to firm again.
Off the Continent, it has been a difficult week for owners. Aframaxes were competitive for transatlantic runs and with prompt tonnage still around, levels for 55,000 tonnes from ARA back to the US Gulf have eased to around WS 125.
With plenty of tonnage to choose from, charterers were able to pull rates down around 10 WS points to sit now at WS 130 for 37,000 tonnes from Continent to USAC. Owners preferred to ballast back rather head to the US Gulf where rates eased further to WS 65 for 38,000 tonnes to the Continent. However, the market has regained some lost ground here and with plenty of enquiry for shorthaul trade to central and South America also, rates have now nudged -up close to WS 80.
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