Not surprisingly the market remained largely unchanged due to the combination of International Petroleum week and Chinese New Year. February program is now covered with long east rates for 270,000 tonnes maintained in the low WS 60s and west rates hovering between WS 34.50/36 level. Weather and ullage delays in the Far East have aided owners’ cause, creating uncertainty here with charterers focusing on tonnage with a reliable itinerary and seemingly willing to repeat ‘last done’.
In West Africa, the market has held steady at WS 64.50/65 for China discharge, while in the Caribbean, activity would appear to have been confined to India runs with levels here steady at around $4.9 million basis WC India discharge.
A slow start to the week saw rates in the low WS 70s for Europe discharge but a replacement cargo led to pressure on the market. Further increased levels of enquiry significantly tightened the tonnage list and rates increased sharply with reports of WS 95 having now been paid for an Angola/Portugal run.
Black Sea rates have mirrored the movement in West Africa with WS 77.50 being fixed at the start of the week before WS 82.50 was done by Chevron. Today, with Turkish straits delays of around four to five days each way, the market is now being assessed in the mid WS 90s.
It has been a much better week for owners in the Mediterranean, as plenty of enquiry finally thinned what had previously been a bloated tonnage list. Activity in Black Sea was also strong and rates moved around 7.5 WS points to high WS 80s in the Mediterranean with low/mid WS 90s now paid from Black Sea. With uncovered cargoes still in the market, brokers feel there is potential for the market to firm further.
In the North Sea, rates have come under pressure, easing around WS 7.5 points to barely WS 100 while the ice market in the Baltic has similarly struggled with rates falling to low /mid WS 80s. A lack of enquiry with fuel for longer haul trips has left too much tonnage in the north.
Weather delays and uncertain positions in the Caribbean, have enabled those owners with reliable itineraries to push the market up around six points to settle now at WS 132.5 basis 70,000 tonnes cargo.
Off the Continent, it has been an uneventful week with the market steady in the low/mid WS 120s for 55,000 tonnes from ARA back to the US Gulf.
A quiet week on the continent/USAC market saw rates initially ease 2.5 WS points to WS 112.5 for 37,000 tonnes, and there was even a report of WS 107.5 having been agreed but levels now are looking more settled at around WS 112.5.
In the US Gulf backhaul trade, healthy amounts of enquiry, albeit predominantly for short-haul trade to the Caribbean/central and South America led to a thinner tonnage list, which has created a significant firming of rates. They started the week around WS 90 for Europe and quickly rose to WS 110 with a high of WS 115 reported although WS 110 is now looking more established.
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