VLCC earnings on key routes hold steady.
BROKERS reported a well-balanced market for very large crude carriers this week, as earnings steadied on key routes from the Middle East to Asia, and from the Middle East to the US, writes Michelle Wiese Bockmann.
So far 50 VLCCs have been booked from the Middle East for March, with more than 15 this week alone.
Despite the busy week, rates have risen slightly, to around W77 on the Middle East to Japan route, absorbing tonnage with little rate volatility.
Shipping exchange Imarex anticipated that charterers had another nine cargoes for which to book ships between March 10-20, and another 27 from March 20-31. About 44 VLCCs were estimated to be available during this time period.
Between 65-72 VLCCs from the global fleet of 543 were anticipated to enter the Middle East Gulf in the next 30 days based on brokers" estimates.
?Rates have potential to inch up as tonnage becomes slightly tighter in the Arabian Gulf now,? Norwegian shipping exchange Imarex said in a daily report. And although tonnage availability ?looks sufficient for now, it could be a different story when the April programme does start end of this week or next week.?
Owners" sentiment was reported as firm, with rates" direction depending on how charterers played remaining March cargoes, a London broker said.
Although the market was holding, looming refinery shutdowns in Asia for maintenance could soften demand and see oil companies look to re-let tonnage on the spot market. This would place further pressure on VLCCs operating in the spot market.
Imarex also reported increased activity in West Africa for VLCC shipments, but another broker said most March inquiries had ended, which saw rates soften.
The Baltic Exchange rate on the TD3 route closed yesterday at W77, or $37,200 per day, compared to W81 and $41,450 per day a week ago.