Tanker Market Faced a Downward Correction in April
Latest estimates show global spot fixtures experienced a seasonal decline in April, falling to 13.23 mb/d. Fixtures dropped m-o-m by 3.1 mb/d, or around 19%, with declines seen across the board. Compared with the previous year, spot fixtures fell 3.3 mb/d, or close to 20%.
OPEC spot fixtures fell in April by 1.9 mb/d, or almost 18%, to average 9.06 mb/d. In comparison with the same month in 2022, fixtures were 1.6 mb/d lower, or about 15%. Middle East-to-East fixtures declined by 0.9 mb/d, or over 14%, to average 5.5 mb/d. Compared with the same month of the previous year, eastward flows from the Middle East decreased 1.2 mb/d, or over 17%. Spot fixtures on the Middle East-to-West route also declined m-o-m in April, dropping by about 50 tb/d, or about 4%, to average around 1.2 mb/d. Y-o-y, however, fixtures were up by 0.1 mb/d, or almost 13%. Outside the Middle East, fixtures slumped m-o-m by almost 29% to average 2.4 mb/d. Compared to the same month last year, fixtures on the route were down by 0.6 mb/d, or around 19%.
Sailings and arrivals
OPEC sailings declined in April, averaging 22.8 mb/d. This represents a m-o-m drop of about 0.7 mb/d, or almost 3%. Y-o-y, OPEC sailings were down by about 0.6 mb/d, or less than 3%. Middle East sailings averaged 17.7 mb/d in April, the same as the previous month. Y-o-y, sailings from the region were down by 0.7 mb/d, or close to 4%.
Crude arrivals were mixed in April. North American arrivals saw strong gains, increasing 0.3 mb/d, or about 3%, to average 9.4 mb/d. However, y-o-y arrivals in North America were 0.5 mb/d higher, or 5%. In contrast, arrivals in Europe fell m-o-m by 0.1 mb/d, or about 1%, to average 9.4 mb/d. Compared to the same month last year, arrivals to Europe were 0.9 mb/d higher, or almost 7%. Far East arrivals averaged 16.8 mb/d, up 0.2 mb/d, or about 2%, compared with the previous month and around 0.7 mb/d, or about 4%, higher y-o-y. In contrast, arrivals in West Asia fell by about 0.3 mb/d, or over 3%, to average 8.8 mb/d. Y-o-y, arrivals in the region were up by 0.2 mb/d, or about 2%.
Dirty tanker freight rates
Very large crude carriers (VLCCs)
VLCC spot rates retreated in April, down 22% compared to the previous month. However, y-o-y, VLCC rates were still 22% higher on average. High crude inventories in China, narrowing refinery margins in Asia-Pacific and reduced flows from the Middle East weakened demand for VLCCs. On the Middle East-to-East route, rates dropped m-o-m by 24% to average WS66 points. This was still 32% higher y-o-y. Rates on the Middle East-to-West route declined 17% m-o-m to average WS48 points. Y-o-y, rates on the route were still up 55%. West Africa-to-East spot rates fell m-o-m by 23% to average WS66 points in April. Compared with the same month of 2022, rates were 16% higher
Suezmax rates in April erased the gains seen in the previous two months, falling 28% m-o-m. Compared with the same month of the previous year, rates were 30% lower. Spot freight rates on the West Africa-to-USGC route declined m-o-m by 20% to average WS102 points. Y-o-y, rates were down by 25%. Rates on the USGC-to-Europe route fell 36% to average WS77 points. Compared with the same month of 2022, they were 35% lower.
Aframax spot freight rates declined across all routes, down by an average of 32% in April. Compared with the same month of 2022, rates were 17% lower. Rates on the Indonesia-to-East route slipped 3% lower m-o-m to average WS182 in April. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 17% higher. In contrast, spot rates on the Caribbean-to-USEC route plunged m-o-m by 66% to average WS116 points. Y-o-y, rates were 51% lower.
Cross-Med spot freight rates fell 20% m-o-m to average W176 points. They were 12% lower y-o-y. On the Mediterranean-to-Northwest Europe (NWE) route, rates decreased 14% m-o-m to average WS173 points. Compared with the same month of 2022, rates were down by around 9%.
Clean tanker freight rates
Clean spot freight rates showed a mix performance, with a weaker market West of Suez outweighing the strong performance East of Suez. On average, rates fell 5% m-o-m and were down 2% compared with April 2022 levels.
Rates on the Middle East-to-East route increased 7% in April to average WS203. Y-o-y, rates were also up 7%. Clean spot freight rates on the Singapore-to-East route rose 30% m-o-m to average WS243 and were up 9% compared with the same month of 2022.
Spot freight rates on the NWE-to-USEC route declined 6% m-o-m to average WS217 points in April. They were broadly flat y-o-y. Rates for the Cross-Med route fell 19% to average WS264 points, while rates on the Med-to-NWE route declined 18% to average WS274 points. Compared with the same month of the previous year, rates on the Med routes were down 9%.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide