North Sea: Aframax Rates Firm Amid Tight List And Mediterranean Pull

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VLCC

The only “booster” that works in the VLCC market, apart from underlying supply and demand of course, is transparency. As Mark Twain put it: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”. Right now, it feels a bit like the owning community fancy they got more to win than lose by being tight lipped, and with that they give charterers the upper hand to change the narrative. The few open market quotes out there can cater for a wider range of the fleet and inadvertently becomes benchmark setters. MEG/East rates are still starting with a 7, but attempts will be made to bring it back into the WS 60’s. A narrowing arb has also lessened appetite for USG export cargoes in the Far East seeing some deals flop and sentiment become a tad wobblier. However, rates in the USD 9 million’s for the benchmark Ningbo discharge is not to be sniffed at and West Africa/East has followed suit with last done at strong WS 75.

Suezmax

There’s a lot of positive talk emanating from Atlantic players, but the question is, do the fundamentals support upward movement? We feel that the one shining light is the Mediterranean Aframax market which has brought Suezmax into its crosshairs making TD 6 jump up to WS 122.5. In West Africa, there is a similarly bullish feel, but the outstanding second decade stems suggest it will have to be more sentiment driven that supply demand with max 12mb left to left in that window.

In the East, last done MEG/East is WS 115 (which is up) against a tightening list with no downside. Bot/UKCM (Cape) should pay WS 70’ish – again, no downside.

Aframax

North Sea

Limited activity in the first half of the week but with a tight list, and Mediterranean market rapidly firming and cargoes taking vessels off the Continent rates and sentiment have firmed for the cargoes that have been worked. Natural window end May and will slide into June dates relatively soon. Uncertain positions also adding to the tightness in the list. Still attractive to ballast TA and especially for prompt tonnage to head down to a booming Mediterranean market.

Mediterranean

A combination of consist cargo flow, sentiment and delays in the Mediterranean has helped owners push the rates. Supply looks balanced on the outlook, and with the Mediterranean being the hottest market in the West, will see ballasters from the Continent wanting in on the action. Suezmax tonnage in the Mediterranean still looks relatively tight, with CPC loadings looking to be mainly dominated by Suezmaxes capping any gains made in this region. It’s firm and owners remain bullish in their approach.

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Source: Fearnpulse