Lack of quality points to rise in freight level

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 1995, 12:00am

IS that nebulous undefinable asset 'quality' about to start working? It might appear so as in the early part of the month there is a relative shortage of vessels claiming this attribute and consequently the opportunity does exist for owners of such vessels to improve on previously paid freight levels.

There have been 20 fixtures of very large crude carriers (VLCCs) and ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) utilising five million tonnes and the current availability until the end of the month is some 60 vessels of 17 million deadweight tonnes (dwt).

The fixture breakdown this week has included 11 vessels to the East where the rate to Singapore stands at about Worldscale (WS) 45 to WS 47.5 while Japan pays WS 51 and South Korea WS 47.5.

There were five fixtures to the Red Sea where ULCCs obtained WS 38, and voyages to the West show that VLCCs are being paid WS 45/46. Little of consequence has been fixed in the smaller ranges where a 90,000 tonner closed to Colombo at WS 82 while an 80,000 tonner was fixed to Singapore at WS 92.5.

VLCCs have taken a big bite out of the West African market this week with numerous such vessels being fixed to the East at WS 38, with the US Gulf paying WS 57.5 and Britain-Continent-Mediterranean WS 60.

In spite of the VLCC activity, a fair volume of smaller units have been used and the million barrel tanker is now closing at WS 80/82.5 to the States, and to the East the level for such sizes is WS 67.5. The Mediterranean continues to be a graveyard for owners where conditions are so appalling it beggars description as to how they continue to operate their vessels of the 80,000 dwt size in the cross-Med trades at WS 85/90.

Owners of vessels in the 75,000-80,000-tonne size have been able to hold onto and, in some cases, improve upon the levels they have been receiving out of the Caribbean where as high as WS 152.5 was recorded for a 73,000-tonne Caribbean-USNH movement.

Similar sizes trading from East Coast Mexico to the US Gulf were closing at WS 142.5 and the million barrel size accepted WS 62.5 for a voyage from East Coast Mexico to the UK-Continent.

It has not been an exciting week in the North Sea where rates barely inspire enthusiasm with the million barrel size fixing to the Mediterranean at WS 77.5 and a 265,000 tonner closed to the US Gulf at WS 55.

The more usual 80,000 tonner which operates out of this area received WS 95 for a trans-North Sea movement while a voyage to Portland obtained as high as WS 124.

A rather mixed bag of period employment has been reported encompassing a VLCC which extended its current time charter for six months while a 130,000 tonner was fixed for 12 months consecutive voyages from West Africa to the States at a market-related level.

Report supplied by London ship broker E A Gibson.