There has been a very modest improvement in rates in the Middle East Gulf. Healthy volumes of enquiry gave owners encouragement and rates for 270,000 tonnes going long east have nudged back up around two WS points in to the very low WS 40s, but the usual discount applies for older or ex-dry dock tonnage which is trading in the mid to high WS 30s. Going west rates for 280,000 to US Gulf have come under downward pressure, falling around two WS points to sit now at between WS 20/21 region, as owners look to position their ships for the more attractive and lucrative Caribs/east trade. Here, Caribs to WC India was fixed at $2.75million while an EC Mexico to South Korea run went at $4.9 million. In the North Sea, ST fixed Hound Point to South Korea at $4.05 million while Lord Energy took 1997 built tonnage for Arzew to South Korea at around $3.25 million.
West Africa has seen rates for 260,000 tonnes to China move in tandem with the Middle East Gulf and rates here are up around two points with WS 49 and subsequently WS 50 being agreed here.
An active week in West Africa saw a significant thinning of tonnage, consequently rates have firmed to around WS 72.5. Petrogal did pay WS 76 but this was for an early position off 19 September. A run to EC Canada was fixed by P66 at WS 75. Black Sea rates for 135,000 tonnes initially held at WS 77.5 but with charterers also looking for east options, rates have increased to low WS 80s with Singapore option agreed at $2.15 million while South Korea discharge was fixed at $2.6 million. Going west, Irving fixed 135,000 tonnes from Ceyhan to EC Canada at WS 58.75.
It has been a much more encouraging week for owners as improved amounts of enquiry, supported by the lifting of the force majeure at Zawia, saw rates for both Med and Black Sea gain around 20 points to sit now at WS 100 level.
A somewhat thinner tonnage list finally saw rates in the Baltic for 100,000 tonnes move off the bottom and the market gained 10 points to sit now at WS 70. Rates in the North Sea followed suit with last seen fixed in the 80,000 tonnes cross North Sea market (excluding Sullom Voe load) at WS 97.5 region representing a gain of around 7.5 WS points from a week ago.
The 70,000 tonnes Caribs up coast market has been steady throughout the week at WS 155 level with prompt tonnage in the US Gulf being quickly fixed predominantly for lightering business and with further hurricanes in the area brokers do not foresee any weakening in the market.
A public holiday in the USA at the start of the week saw a tailing off in enquiry and rates for 55,000 tonnes from both ARA and Skikda have eased around 7.5 points to sit now at WS 117.5 level.
The market in the 75,000 tonnes AG to Japan trade has turned around and plenty of activity has seen the market recover from WS 100 of a week ago to sit now at WS 110. It is a similar story on the LR1s where rates for 55,000 tonnes to Japan have firmed 7.5 points to WS 130.
After the frantic activity in the wake of Hurricane Harvey which saw rates climb to WS 240 plus, encouraging plenty of tonnage to ballast direction NW Europe, reality has now set in and the market today is around WS 100 points lower at WS 145 region, but with a ten-point premium paid for very early loading. In the 38,000 tonnes back haul trade from US Gulf to UKCont, there has been only limited activity and rates have eased around 15 points to WS 97.5 region.
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