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Tankers: VLCC Market Still Under Pressure


OPEC seemed to be the focus of most players this week, with production quotas being rolled into April eventually being agreed, handing Owners little cheer as rates for VLCCs came under some pressure. In the Middle East region, 280,000mt to US Gulf via the Cape/Cape routing continues to be assessed at WS18-18.5 level, while rates for 270,000mt to China eased 1.5 points to WS30 (a TCE of minus $3,300/day). In the Atlantic, 260,000mt West Africa to China saw rates maintain WS34.5 (a TCE of about $2,100/day) and 270,000mt from US Gulf to China saw rates dip about $10k to $4.12m, giving a TCE of about $4,500/day on a round trip basis.


Rates for Black Sea/Med have remained at around WS75 level ($7,600/day TCE) while the 130,000mt Nigeria/UK-Continent market managed a five point gain to WS60 ($6,400/day TCE). Basrah to Mediterranean for 140,000mt remains around WS18-18.5 level, although a Turkish Owned vessel fixed a Turkish refiner for Basrah/Turkey at WS15, and Exxon were reported to have taken a Delta ship at WS18.5 for European discharge options.


Recent stresses in this sector eased this week enabling Charterers to regain some control of the market. In the Mediterranean, rates fell nearly 30 points to low WS100s for 80,000mt Ceyhan/Lavera (basis a round voyage, showing about $9,500/day TCE). A less dramatic situation was seen for Cross-North Sea where rates remained flat at WS95 for 80,000mt, while 100,000mt Baltic to UK-Continent regained about seven points to WS87.5/88.5 level. On the other side of the Atlantic, rates came under pressure and ultimately Owners saw reductions. The 70,000mt Caribbean/US Gulf market slipped six points to WS142.5/145 level (a TCE of about $20,000/day round trip). Meanwhile for US Gulf to UK-Continent rates saw a steeper fall of 14 points to WS107.5-110 level.


A relatively uneventful week for LR tonnage, where 75,000mt Middle East Gulf/Japan rates gained around 1.5 points to WS73.5 which was paid by Shell on the ‘Haima’. It was a similar story on the LR1s as rates firmed a little for 55,000mt to Japan with talk of WS95 agreed on subjects, which is up three to four points. There is a more positive sentiment in the market, but improved volumes of enquiry will be needed if there is to be any significant improvement. For MRs on AG/East Africa it was a more volatile week with rates starting at WS160, before dipping down to mid WS155s and then subsequently recovering to sit now at WS162.5 level. For the Cont/USAC market trade, it has been an uninspiring week. The big drop of 15 points at the end of last week has seen rates remain stagnant, hovering between WS112.5/115 region. Levels have not been helped by the weak backhaul market where rates for 38,000mt from US Gulf to UK-Continent are flat at WS60. Continent to West Africa rates followed the pattern of the trans-Atlantic market, hovering all week in the low to mid WS120s. Whilst rates for US Gulf to Brazil runs have been steady all week just above WS100, it was another disappointing week for handies in the cross-Mediterranean trade with rates opening this week at WS140, down 30 points. The market now sits at around WS120 for West Med load, with East Med paying around WS125 and Black Sea hovering between WS135/140 level.
Source: The Baltic Briefing

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