It has been an uneventful week in the Middle East Gulf with the market holding steady in the low WS 60s basis 270,000 tonnes for long east, and west rates recovered to around WS 34.50/35 having fallen to WS 31.5 earlier. A relatively modest surplus of February tonnage, aided by ullage and weather delays in China, has kept the levels steady, with West Africa absorbing some of the tonnage here. Rates in West Africa have firmed from WS 65 at the end of last week to WS 71/72.5 basis China discharge while going west, P66 are understood to have taken Olympic tonnage for 260,000 tonnes at WS 85 for a run to EC Canada.
On the Continent, Vitol took Maran Canopus from Hound Point to South Korea at $6.75 million, while Caribs/WC India runs have been steady at around $4.9 million. On the period front, Reliance have taken three ships for two/three years timecharter at between $38,500/40,000 daily.
After last week’s upswing in West Africa, rates have come under pressure as a consequence of the VLCC activity. Rates at the start of the week were region WS 97/98, but plentiful tonnage saw rates ease first to WS 90, and then Petrogal covered a run to Portugal at WS 85. Finally, Exxon managed to fix at WS 82.5 to UK-Cont/Med with US Gulf option at WS 77.5.
Black Sea rates at the start of the week initially eased from close to WS 100 to settle in the mid WS 90s, before weather delays in Spanish Med, plus uncertainty in Trieste berthing and sustained Turkish straits delays of around four/six days each way, led to a tighter tonnage list. A short Algeria/Portugal trip is understood to have been covered at WS 100 basis 130,000 tonnes quantity.
In the Mediterranean, rates have held steady in the mid/high WS 90s. With a number of ships presently on subjects and good levels of enquiry from both east and west Mediterranean, combined with an active Black Sea market, brokers feel there is potential for the market to firm further.
By contrast, in the Baltic rates have eased further as limited enquiry combined with plenty of ice tonnage has given charterers considerable choice, so the market has lost around WS 7.5 points to sit now at WS 75 basis 100,000 tonnes. It is a similar story in the North Sea with 80,000 tonnes down WS 7.5 points and now being covered at WS 92.5.
An active week in the Caribbean has seen rates hold steady in the low WS 130s, and with uncertain itineraries on end February tonnage brokers are suggesting the market has a firm feel to it with the potential to push up.
Off the Continent, it has been a slow week with the Caribs upcoast panamax market falling further to WS 120 level, which is leading to more ballasters coming across. There is no shortage of tonnage looking to fix from ARA back to the US Gulf, with rates here under pressure at around WS 120 for 55,000 tonnes and the potential to ease further.
A busy start to the week flattered to deceive and rates have remained steady on the Continent/USAC trade in the WS 110/115 region. There was a deal done by Statoil at WS 120, but this was for Mongstad loading which tends to pay a premium over ARA.
In the US Gulf backhaul trade, it has been a disappointing week for owners with plenty of vessel choice for charterers as levels eased from WS 107.5 to WS 95, and there is now even a rumour of Noble having covered at WS 80.
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