Crude market steers a steady-as-she-goes course
THE market out of the Middle East Gulf last week for ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) and very large crude carriers ( VLCCs) was a mirror image of the previous week, with 22 fixtures of 6.5 million tonnes fixed and voyages to the East again predominating.
Rates, likewise, show little difference, hovering about Worldscale (WS) 42.5 for Europe and WS 50 to Japan, while other Eastern destinations such as South Korea and Taiwan obtained cover at an average of WS 43.
A large ULCC however, accepted WS 32.5 for a voyage to the US Gulf a drop from previous levels.
The position list for October shows 20 million deadweight (dwt) comprising 68 VLCCs and ULCCs being available, a figure which could prove insufficient to satisfy demand if the rate of fixing continues.
There has been a mixed bag of business concluded out of the Middle East for smaller sizes including a 88,000 tonner to Sriracha at WS 77.5, while a 75,000 tonner loading at Bandar Mashur to Singapore obtained WS 117.5.
A fair volume of business has been concluded out of West Africa, utilising vessels between 100,000 to 250,000 tonnes and the rate level shows little variation from previously set rates.
Tonnage between 125,000 tonnes and 135,000 tonnes discharging in the United States are being fixed at levels of about WS 72.5 with the option of UK-Continent at WS 75, while VLCCs are being taken at WS 45 to the US Gulf and WS 47.5 to the UK-Continent and Mediterranean.
Business out of the Mediterranean tended to slow towards the weekend, but in the middle of the reported period, numerous fixtures were concluded utilising most sizes.
A VLCC did a voyage from Sidi Kerir to Sines at WS 61, while a million-barrel size tanker in a similar trade was earning WS 75.
The normal 80,000 tonner was obtaining levels of between WS 100 to WS 105 for the cross-Mediterranean trades.
There continues to be a healthy enquiry pattern out of the Caribbean and east-coast Mexico loading areas for crude-oil carriers, with latest reports showing 70,000-ton size loading in the Caribbean for discharging US Gulf and US Atlantic coast obtaining WS 130.
In the transAtlantic trade, a 120,000 tonner obtained WS 50 for a voyage from east-coast Mexico to Spain while a 70,000 tonner secured at WS 92.5 from the Caribbean to UK-Continent.
Not a particularly busy week in the North Sea market with the workhorse 80,000 tonner closing at between WS 97.5 and WS 100 for a cross-UK-Continent movement, while WS 115 was paid on a similar-size vessel to Halifax.
The last reported fixture of a VLCC from Sullom Voe to the US Gulf was at WS 45, in line with the previous week.
Trade started slowly in the clean-product market this week, but several loading areas eventually saw increased activity enabling rates to regain a certain degree of firmness.
A case in point was the Mediterranean market, where a shortage of early tonnage enabled owners to improve earnings.
Conditions in the eastern markets remained buoyant, with rates remaining firm.
Overall, the clean market in the east remained in owners' favour, although there have been a few exceptions, one being the Middle East, where a split in demand dates has enabled Large Range vessels with good cubics available in the second-half of October to enjoy levels of WS 170 for 55,000 tonnes of cargo for Japan, while those available in the first-half of the month have found cargoes few and far between and have fared less well.
Medium Range liftings, with India remaining the predominant demand area for which Charterers, are now paying about WS 230.
Owners of early vessels in the Mediterranean capitalised on a number of cancellations, plus a slight increase in the demand for moving gas-oil to the UK-Continent or other Mediterranean destinations.
This situation eventually enabled 30,000 tonners to obtain WS 175 while the stems for naphtha or jet have paid a premium of between WS 200 and WS 210, depending on position, on the 25,000 tonne size.
Charterers attempts to utilise a Large Range product carrier to lift about 65,000 tonnes of gas-oil to Singapore for a lump sum of about US$1 million have failed, in spite of more than six attempts.
Despite a lack of tonnage available in the Caribbean for the end of September and early October, particularly for vessels suitable for Boston, the singular lack of enquiry has enabled charterers to maintain rates at about WS 205 for the typical 28,500 tonne to 30,000 tonne liftings to the US Atlantic coast.
There is no doubt that the UK-Continent market has suffered seriously a lack of enquiry.
with few fixtures reported.
From WS 200 for a 22,000 tonner at the beginning of the week, levels have held surprisingly to where they are now steady at WS 185 for slightly larger units.