Iraq chartering woes

Apr 03 2015


A backlog of over 30 oil tankers has built up outside the Iraqi port of Basra.

According to a Reuters report, lengthy delays of up to three weeks are occurring to load oil due to bad weather and possible oil quality issues, shipping industry sources said.

The problems could delay or limit the number of oil export cargoes from Basra in April, potentially pushing down tanker freight rates, two Singapore shipbrokers told Reuters.

More than 30 oil tankers, two-thirds of of which are VLCCs, are currently lying outside Basra, some of being idle since mid-March.

"The bad weather (in February) has caused all these delays," said Sadiq Jaafar, head of marine consultancy firm Sadiq Jaafar & Associates in Baghdad, talking with Reuters.

The strong winds and storms created a backlog into March and April, said two other maritime sources in Iraq.

The usual waiting time is about five days, one broker said, however, Reuters shipping data showed that some tankers have been waiting to load for nearly three weeks at a daily charter rate of around $48,000-$50,000 per day per ship since early March.

The delays could affect the total number of cargoes being chartered from the Middle East, while chartering  hold ups could result in a drop in freight rates.

"By accepting less quantities to be lifted during March and April, this issue may be resolved over the coming 60 days," the source said.

Shipbrokers have seen a drop in cargo numbers being fixed from the Middle East in the first 10 days of April. "We're some 16 fixtures down," said one broker.

VLCC rates from the Middle East to Asia have fallen by around $10,000 per day, or about 14%, since 24th February as the number of ships waiting for charters outpaced cargo volumes, chartering data showed.

The drop-off in cargoes comes after oil exports from Iraq's southern fields rose to an average of 2.66 mill barrels per day in the first 18 days of March, close to last December's 2.76 mill barrels per day record and well up on the 2.29 mill barrels per day seen in February, when bad weather affected loading.

In the charter markets, FSL Trust Management (FSLTM), as trustee-manager of

First Ship Lease Trust (FSL Trust) has entered into a two-year timecharter agreement with a prominent US domestic oil company for the Aframax ‘FSL Hong Kong’.

The new employment is anticipated to generate around $16.8 mill of revenue over the next 24 months, the company said. This represents an increase of 47% on the timecharter rate at which the ‘FSL Shanghai’ was contracted for one year in June, 2014.

Alan Hatton, FSLTM CEO, commented: "We are very pleased to announce that we have extended our commercial relationship with this prominent US domestic oil company. This demonstrates that the Trust will enter into longer-term contracts with strong counterparties, providing stable cash flows, when the right market opportunities arise.”

Other fixtures reported by brokers recently include Shell’s charter of the 2007-built Suezmax ‘SKS Spey’ for 12 months at $28,000 per day, while the same charterer reportedly took the 2006-built Aframax ‘Oklahoma’ for two years at $22,000 per day. 

Koch was dsaid to have fixed the 2013-built LR1 ‘Abbey Road’ for 12 months at $20,750 per day, while BP was believed to have fixed the 2009-built LR1 ‘Gulf Coral’ in direct continuation at $20,250 per day.

In the MR segment, Koch was said to have fixed the 2008-built ‘Atlantic Grace’ for 12 months at $15,750 per day and the 2009-built ‘Prisco Irina’ for the same period at $15,250 per day. Morgan Stanley was said to have chartered the 2007-built ‘Iver Exact’ for 12 months at $14,900 per day.

As for newbuildings, Meiji was thought to have contracted a second VLCC at JMU for 2018 delivery.

MTMM was said to have ordered another four stainless steel chemical tankers in Japan. The company added another two 35,000 dwt vessels at Shin Kurushima for mid-2018 deliveries, taking the total to seven at this yard.

In addition, two 21,000 dwt chemical tankers were ordered at Kitanihon for delivery in the first quarter of 2018.

Sloman Neptune was said to have contracted up to two 16,500 dwt chemical/products tankers at Jiangzhou Union Shipbuilding - one firm contract, plus an option. Delivery of the first vessel is due in June next year.   

In the S&P sector, the 2000-built MR ‘Chemtrans Petri was believed sold to Middle East interests for $12.5 mill and the 2010-built MR ‘Future Prosperity’ was believed sold to unknown interests for $22.5 mill.

Leaving the fleet were the 1992-built Aframax ‘Jawaharlal Nehru’ reported sold to unknown breakers, ‘as is’ Colombo, for $380 per ldt and also sold ‘as is’ Colombo was the 1995-built Handysize ‘Dawn Meerut’ also sold to unknown interests for $360 per ldt, which included 150 tonnes of bunkers ROB. 



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