Fearnleys: VLCC Lull, While Suezmax Stay Active

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Fearnleys weekly report compiles the tanker status for week 11 of the year 2024.

VLCC

MEG March stem volume will close out this week at around 145 total cargoes. Likely a very brief lull before the April cargoes start working (although we have already seen a 1-2/Apr Al Shaheen Smax stem and some Chinese to Chinese business off April dates already). The early birds may start working at the end this week, early next, so rates likely a flat in the MEG for the time being at the WS 70 level. We count 30 vessels on the water, free of cargo at present, so the list is lengthening a touch.

A little different in the West however – a touch softer – USD 9m USG/Ningbo levels, but we are behind the curve a little, so we feel a pickup in activity in the next few days. Worth noting the average for 2024 so far USG/Ningbo is USD 9.2m, so it seems owners and charterers seem to have found the happy level that the route works at. West Africa/East done at WS 70, albeit an older vessel.

Suezmax

The market remains active in most sectors with rates holding steady overall so far this week. West Africa as we have said has seen under the radar fixing recently but again not enough market cargoes being seen working to build momentum and sentiment for the owners. Rates we suspect should still be around the WS 105-107.5 level for UKCM.

The Mediterranean/Black Sea region is ticking over, but the Aframax market which has been helping hold up the rate levels, did slow down with only a few cargoes in the market. We are going to need more enquiry to keep at the last done levels in the Suezmax market off natural dates. We saw a Hariga to Ningbo voyage cover at USD 5.3m via Cape, which we think was lower than most owners would have considered. The Black Sea saw the end of the third decade working with rates fixing upto WS 107.5 for min flat Augusta, with a few Suezmax units covering Aframax parcels. Delays still are minimal for the Turkish Straits and is still tonnage in good supply.

US Gulf has been ticking over with a West Coast India run covering at USD 5.4m, whilst T/A voyages maintaining WS 100.

Middle East Gulf has been busy, with one charterer reaching out to April dates for a MEG/East which is reported to have covered. Likely in the WS 120 levels for East, if modern, although we’ve hardly seen any activity from Basrah but a few Kuwait fuel tenders working, whilst we saw one vessel fail STS Kaz to the US Gulf allegedly at USD 4.1m. Sentiment is flat here in the MEG.

Aframax

The North Sea from end of last week into this week has seen consistent enquiry pushing dates into 3rd decade. An active fuel oil market taking vessels out of the area either T/A or into the Red Sea, combined with a continued stream of ballasters has depleted the early tonnage but natural tonnage turning around and tonnage coming into the area should repopulate the list into the end 3rd decade. Firmer sentiment.

Upward pressure to the Mediterranean Aframax market this week. A subdued, steadier feel in the first half was eclipsed as rates jumped mid-week with fixing window pushing out to end month for East Mediterranean cargoes and last 5 days in North Africa. Further pressure on tonnage and rates in the short term but a steady turn-around of vessels should replenish list heading into April.

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Source: Fearn Pulse