Markets- VLCCs firming again

Mar 01 2019

Mainly on the back of US Gulf activity, VLCC rates continued to firm on all the major routes.

TCE earnings were in excess of $30,000 per day for a USG/South Korea route on a round voyage basis, and better still if with a front leg cargo, Fearnleys reported.

With tight tonnage lists in the current fixing window, charterers with cargoes reached out to secure tonnage.

Further upside risk should be seen in the short term, as we move further into March laycans, the broker said.

During the past week, Suezmax owners have struggled to gain any foothold. A very light 2nd decade in West Africa has starved the market of much needed action causing rates to soften.

Turkish straits delays have declined allowing for more tonnage availability in the Black Sea region thus adding to the softening of rates, now down to WS82.5 for TD6.

VLCCs have taken a large amount of volume in the third decade out of West Africa and this does not bode well for the week ahead for the million barrel ships.

The pressurised Eurozone economy has seen a rapid decline in the demand for oil recently, which in turn has dampened the demand for oil in the region partially contributing to the lack of cargoes in the market.

The week ahead has a soft trend with tonnage building up.

In the North, we have seen little Aframax activity in the past week, with rates coming off slightly.

However, the availability of ships is expected to tighten in the 3rd decade March loading window, resulting in freight levels firming again.

In the Mediterranean/Black Sea, however, a relatively active week was seen thus far  with an upward trend in freight levels.

Black Sea has moved up 30 WS points since the middle of last week, with current rates standing at WS127.5 to the Mediterranean.

At the same time, a straight cross-Med voyage lagged behind with TD19 now at low WS100 levels.

As owners are finding this a slightly more attractive market to be in, we expect them to maintain their stand, as fresh inquires hit the market in the days to come, resulting in a further firming of freight rates, Fearnleys concluded.

Brokers reported that Repsol had fixed the 2010-built Suezmax for 12 months at $23,500 per day.

In addition, there were a few LR1 fixtures reported. These included BP taking the 2010-built ‘Altesse’ for 12 months at $15,000 per day, Navig8 fixing the 2008-built ‘Alpine Persefone’ for 12 months at $13,500, Vitol taking the 2008-built sistership ‘Alpine Penelope’ for 12 months plus options at $14,500 and Trafigura fixing the 2005-built ‘Archangelos Gabriel’ for nine months at $14,000 per day.

In the MR segment, Union Maritime reportedly paid a rather high $16,000 per day for the 2018-built ‘Nord Vantage’ for a 12-month charter.

In the S&P sector, Nordic Ruth Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nordic Shipholding, has confirmed that it had entered into a sale and purchase memorandum of agreement on 26th February, 2019 to sell the 2000-built Handysize ‘Nordic Ruth’ at a gross sale price of 6.1 mill.  

Another Handysize, the 2010-built ‘Lavela’ was said to have been taken by Socomar for $15 mill.

In the larger tonnage segment, Swiss buyers were said to be behind the purchase of the 2018-built Suezmax ‘Energy Triumph’ for $62 mill.

D’Amico has sold the 2009-built MR ‘High Strength’ to buyers believed to be Transocean for $16.4 mill, which includes a timecharter attached.

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