VLCCs continue to suffer from ridiculously low rates for cargo
RATES last week continued to be totally ridiculous, with very large crude carriers (VLCCs) of about 250,000 tonnes, trading to Singapore and South Korea, forced to accept Worldscale (WS) 30.
Operators on the Japan run managed a small premium at WS 33.5.
The rate to the west for such units has been the same level, WS 30 for the US and WS 32.5 for UK-Continent-Mediterranean, with an ultra-large crude carrier (ULCC) taking a new low of WS 28 to the Red Sea.
The total volume of business concluded was slightly down on the previous week at 18 vessels of 4.8 million tonnes, with 66 vessels of 20 million tonnes due to become available before the first week of March.
In comparison with last week, there has been a greater volume of business for the smaller size vessel, with the rate to Singapore for an 80,000 tonner around WS 90 while a 75,000 tonner went to Australia at WS 110.
Again rates out of West Africa have disappointed as, in spite of numerous fixtures, the average rate for vessels of between 120,000 and 130,000 tonnes closed at WS 62.
In comparison with the dirty market, last week saw plenty of action in the clean section with continuing interest in shipping clean petroleum products from northwest Europe to the US Atlantic coast.
This reached frenetic proportions by the close of the week, resulting in rates in the high 200s for 30,000 tonnes of cargo.
The improvement in levels attracted vessels which ballasted from the northern seaboard to enjoy some of these inflated rates, thus reducing the availability of tonnage for the Caribbean-US trade and resulting in much firmer conditions.
However, the Middle and Far East clean markets are suffering from the pre-Lunar New Year holiday lull which, combined with surplus of tonnage, has caused freights to depreciate.
Far Eastern charterers of clean vessels came back into the large-range market for late February positions - insufficiently, however, to maintain previous levels which slipped to WS 185 on 53,000-tonne cargoes from the Middle East Gulf to Japan.
Rates in the clean market for the 25,000 to 30,000-tonne gasoil carriers operating out of the Mediterranean for UK-Continent Mediterranean discharge have remained at the previous levels although increasing pressure for naphtha-suitable units enabled rates to rise above WS 200 for 25,000-tonne cargoes.
The considerable increase in activity in the clean European market has been attributable to the increased interest on behalf of charterers to move gasoil to the US which has enabled owners to improve the rate to the high WS 200's. This high volume of enquiry, however, has not always resulted in all fixtures obtaining their subjects.
The inter-UK-Continent market, in contrast, has suffered from a lack of enquiry which has resulted in freight rates remaining low at WS 180 for a cargo of 20,000 tonnes while a large-range unit fixed from northwest Europe to the US at WS 160 for 60,000 tonnes of cargo.