Transatlantic aframaxes see a rare rates boost.
A SPIKE in rates to ship crude on non-ice-class tonnage from the Baltic to the US has provided the only respite in fortunes for the global fleet of 844 aframaxes.
Tight availability for ships to make the transatlantic journey kept rates high, as they jumped 26.8% in one week, from W102.5 to W130, according to Geneva-based broker Riverlake Shipping. That boosted owners" returns from $23,785 per day to $37, 325 per day.
However, the lowest earnings in the spot market were around $6,140 daily on the busiest aframax trading route shipping cross-Mediterranean crude cargoes.
Despite a flurry of fixing activity for cross-Mediterranean cargoes over the last two weeks, brokers reported only ?bits and bobs? around. Aframaxes were getting Worldscale rates as low as W90, slightly down from W95 a week ago.
Some ships were booked privately, keeping a lid on rates, a London-based broker said. ?I don"t imagine you could go down much further, in that the ships are earning so little now that taking any less wouldn"t really make much sense. We"re really starting to weigh into single digits ? there"s not much more you can go down.?
?You need sustained activity off similar dates for it to get any kind of response, so it"s still bobbing around that 92.5 level,? he said. But with rates for larger tankers, such as very large crude carriers and suezmaxes, largely declining, the broker"s general outlook was pessimistic.
?Last year, we had three months of the same rate (on the Cross-Med route), and there could easily be the same.
?We could end up being in the W90s for a while.?
French oil major Total chartered the 2000-built, 103,368 dwt Kornati at W92.5, loading from Libya on February 23 to ship crude to an undisclosed Mediterranean port, one of nine spot fixtures listed on this route by broker RS Platou in the last week.
Further north the ?doldrums? continued in the North Sea, London-based ICAP Shipping reported, with a traditional TD7 route from Sullom Voe to Wilhelmshaven yet to be tested. The Baltic Exchange"s rate for the route closed yesterday at W101, or $9,600 per day.