It has been another volatile week in the Middle East Gulf. After the end March rush last week which led to charterers also quoting early April cargoes, there has been a significant easing in levels of enquiry, with charterers looking also to take the steam out of the market by splitting VLCC cargoes in to suezmax tonnage, and the market has dropped accordingly. The start of the week saw WS 100 paid to South Korea but we now understand that Day Harvest have covered a China run at WS 82.5 and there is also talk of WS 79 having subsequently been agreed for a short run to Singapore, all basis 270,000 tonnes cargo quantity. Going west, after WS 50 cape/cape basis 280,000 tonnes was agreed a week ago by Bahri to the US Gulf, enquiry has been very thin and today brokers are assessing this route at around WS 45.
West Africa was fixed at WS 85 by Statoil for an east run and $5.65 million was agreed for two ports load EC India, equating to around WS 87.5 but thereafter nothing else has been reported done. In the Caribbean, Glasford are understood to have paid $6.0 million to Singapore with $7.0 million agreed for China.
In West Africa, the market initially crept up to WS 82.5 with owners trying unsuccessfully to push for more. Thereafter enquiry has eased off and with plenty of tonnage in the Mediterranean also, rates are under pressure with brokers assessing the market now at barely WS 80. Black Sea rates have been flat with Chevron paying WS 82.5 on Nobleway for 135,000 tonnes and Gazprom did WS 80 for 140,000 tonnes. The Dilong Spirit which is prompt in the Mediterranean ended up doing a part cargo of 100,000 tonnes at WS 110 for a short Sidi Kerir/Med trip with laycan only off 26 March.
In the Mediterranean, the market has had a solid feel to it. A couple of cargoes were in the market for some time before finally being covered at WS 120 for Sidi Kerir/Milazzo and it was a similar story as Algeria/Portugal eventually fixed at WS 135. For Ceyhan loaders the market is around WS 115 but with potential to firm, with owners looking to benefit also from the improved North Sea and Baltic markets, which had both previously had an air of predictability about them. The Baltic jumped up to around WS 110 for 100,000 tonnes, representing a gain of almost 40 points. A very active market with plenty of enquiry out simultaneously enabled owners to capitalize and the ‘knock-on’ effect has been felt in the North Sea with rates surging from a previous ‘conference rate’ of WS 92.5 to close to WS 117.5/120 level.
A considerably less active week in the 70,000 tonnes Caribbean/up coast market combined with a build-up of early tonnage saw rates tumble, losing almost 50 points to settle at around WS 90 as charterers saw a very health response to their enquiries.
Off the Continent, it has been a better week for owners as the market moved from low WS 90s to around WS 100. With the Mediterranean market improving and only very limited availability on the Continent for March tonnage, owners have become more bullish, especially with more VGO demand expected in the US Gulf in April.
In the 37,000 tonnes Cont/USAC trade, it has been another slow week, and despite more enquiry for West Africa discharge, rates have lost another five points to settle now at WS 92.5. In the US Gulf the backhaul market has been steady, hovering between WS87.5/90 level for 38,000 tonnes.
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