Charterers have continued to hold the upper hand this week in the Middle East Gulf. The market for 270,000 tonnes going to China is hovering in the mid WS 50s and a charterer able to take newbuilding tonnage fixed at WS 46 for a run to South Korea. S-Oil also paid WS 46 for 274,000 tonnes to Onsan on the 2001 built DHT Utah which only has a bunker sire. Chevron covered a shorter run to Singapore-Thailand reportedly at WS 55 again basis 270,000 cargo quantity. Going west, the market for 280,000 tonnes cape/cape to US Gulf dropped further with Exxon reported to have fixed at WS 24 region basis cape/cape down almost six points from a week ago.
Owners have seen their earnings drop in West Africa where rates for 260,000 tonnes to China eased initially to WS 55 before Chemchina took Leonidas at WS 53. Indian charterers paid the equivalent of around WS 51.25 for WC India discharge. Tonnage is starting to build in the Caribbean with the lack of enquiry putting pressure on rates there and elsewhere. Off the Continent, fuel oil is said to have been fixed by Socar at $2.85 million in contrast to rates of around $3.5 million a week ago.
A healthy supply of tonnage in West Africa has seen rates stuck in the low WS 70s for Europe, although owners did manage to push rates up marginally from WS 72.5 to WS 73.75 while a short run to Spain is said to have been fixed by Repsol at WS 75. In the Black Sea there is very much a sense of déjà vu with rates for 135,000 tonnes unchanged at WS 85. In the Mediterranean, BP paid WS 75 for 130,000 tonnes from Algeria to UKCont , while UML took Aegean Dignity for 135,000 tonnes from Ceyhan to UKC-Med at WS 75-80 respectively.
In the Mediterranean, a busy week led to a clear out of tonnage and with a couple of replacement cargoes thrown into the equation, owners managed to push the market up around WS 30 points to WS 135/137.5 level for both Med and Black Sea loading. However, with the improved market here, brokers feel there will be increased interest from suezmaxes on part cargoes thus capping the rates here.
In the Baltic, the initial status quo was maintained with rates for 100,000 tonnes steady at WS 67.5 before increased off market activity led to rates gaining around WS2.5 to 3 points to settle in the very low WS 70s. In the 80,000 tonnes cross North Sea market, rates have held steady at around WS 100 although with a number of ships on subjects, brokers feel there is potential for the market to firm here also.
In the 70,000 tonnes Caribs/upcoast market, rates at the start of the week eased further to WS 95 before improved levels of enquiry led to a thinner tonnage list and the lack of tonnage with a safe itinerary, combined with a number of outstanding cargoes, has seen rates regain lost ground with the market now at around WS 125 level.
It has been an uneventful week in the 55,000 tonnes ARA to US Gulf trade, with rates largely unchanged at WS 112.5 and Skikda rates at similar levels.
It has been a week to forget for owners in the Middle East Gulf, with the market for 75,000 tonnes to Japan losing around WS 17.5 points to WS 90 and there is even talk of a ship being on subjects at WS 85. It is a similar story in the 55,000 tonnes AG/Japan trade where rates remain under pressure with the market losing almost 15 points to sit now at around WS 97.5 .
Rates in the 37,000 tonnes Cont/USAC market, which started the week at WS 120, have recovered modestly with the market now at WS 125 aided by improved levels of enquiry, although there is still early tonnage available. In the 38,000 tonnes back haul trade, it has been an uneventful week with rates hovering between WS 95/100 level with the last seen fixed here at around WS 95.
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