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Rates are at their highest levels

Rates are at their highest levels
Crude oil freight rates on major routes were mostly higher on Monday with voyages from the Middle East Gulf hitting more than a year high due to buoyant demand to hire vessels.

Crude oil freight rates on major routes were mostly higher on Monday with voyages from the Middle East Gulf hitting more than a year high due to buoyant demand to hire vessels.

Crude oil freight rates on major routes were mostly higher on Monday with voyages from the Middle East Gulf hitting more than a year high due to buoyant demand to hire vessels.

The world's benchmark Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) export route from the Middle East Gulf to Japan strengthened to W101.81 from W70.08 last week ? at its highest since Oct. 14 2008.

Brokers said activity had picked up after the end of 2009 holiday lull.

''With February cargoes set to begin fixing later this week and spot rates already on an upwards trend, the outlook for the next several weeks appears strong,'' Dahlman Rose & Company said in a report.

VLCC rates from the Gulf to the United States rose to W63.85 from W48.69 last week and was at its highest since Dec. 5, 2008.

Brokers said VLCC supply had tightened, which was also bolstering rates.

''Brokers expect the market to hold at firm levels once early-February stems are released,'' ship broker SSY said in a report.

Exchange figures showed crude oil tanker rates from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean rose to W156.04 from W134.71 last week.

Analysts said weather delays in the Bosphorus and Dardanelle shipping lanes would continue to drive strength on Black Sea routes.

Cross Mediterranean tanker rates were at W139.32 from W150.00 last week.

VLCC rates from West Africa to the US Gulf were at W102.10 from W84.79 last week.

Meanwhile, clean petroleum tanker rates on top global export routes were mixed on Monday with the continuing cold weather boosting rates on transatlantic shipments.

Brokers said demand in the Far East remained muted leading to rates drifting lower on those routes.

Typical Long Range 2 (LR2), 75,000-tonne shipments from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to Japan were at W138.75 from W145.27 last week.

Smaller Long Range 1 (LR1), 55,000-tonne loads were at W152.69, from W155.00.

Transatlantic rates from Rotterdam for 37,000-tonne vessels were at W218.17 from W185.42 last week. Rates have been at their highest over the past week since October 2008.

''Transatlantic MR trades firmed significantly ... as the extreme winter conditions in the northern hemisphere increased demand for products,'' broker SSY said in a report.

In the Mediterranean, 30,000-tonne shipments ex-Algeria to southern Europe were at W220.20 from W197.65 last week.

In the Caribbean, 38,000-tonne cargo rates were at W159.36 from W143.82 last week.

Last year, an attractive price play and weak demand for clean products had encouraged oil players to store cargoes especially on LR2 and aframax tankers at sea, with a view to selling them later, helping to soak up available vessels.

Brokers said colder weather in the United States has led to stocks being.

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