West Africa continues to see rates slide
Owners hoped US Gulf weather-related delays would help to soak up excess tonnage.
POOR weather in the US Gulf last week failed to support the West African suezmax market, with rates continuing to slide further towards operating cost levels.
Owners had been hoping that weather-related delays at US oil discharge ports would help remove tonnage from the market and give them room to prevent any further erosion of daily earnings, but this did not happen.
?We heard news about bad weather in the US Gulf and that it would affect things and consolidate the market, but it has had no affect at all. There is just definitely too much tonnage available,? a London-based broker said on Friday.
?Even though very large crude carrier availability is tight in West Africa and charterers are preferring suezmaxes, I think rates are going to go lower.
?I do not think they have bottomed at all. It looked like that had been the case the other day ? that W90 was not going to be broken, but then late on Thursday W85 was done.?
Trafigura booked the 2002-built, 149,878 dwt Seaprince on subjects at W85, with approval pending, to load 130,000 tonnes of West African crude on February 26 and discharge in the US Gulf, according to Greece"s Optima Shipbroking.
This low figure saw the Baltic Exchange TD5 route rate, from Nigeria to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, fall on Friday to W86, with time charter equivalent earnings of $18,770 per day.
By comparison, the index was at W176 just three weeks ago, with owners" daily earnings three times higher at $62,662.
Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping rated earnings even lower on its Forcados to US Gulf route at $18,211 per day.
?I do not see any glimmer of hope that they are even going to be maintained at these levels,? said a London broker, adding that he hoped that earnings would not drop down to the $5,000 per day seen on the TD5 route last year.
?There is a whole host of new tonnage coming on this year so I think you have got to work with that in mind and question if it is going to be as low as that?
?To be honest, I would be surprised because allegedly the world is coming out of a recession so I do not think it will be as bad as that. But you never know. There may be odd times when it may dip down to that,? he said.
Doom and gloom predictions continued in the Black Sea where owners have seen their daily earnings slide by more than two thirds in less than three weeks compared with $76,137 in mid-January. Rates on the Baltic Exchange TD6 route, shipping 135,000 tonne cargoes from Novorossiysk to Augusta, dropped on Friday to W88 or $13,700 per day.
?It is the same story in the Black Sea, with ships just building up. Plus, although there are minor delays transiting the Turkish Straits [of 5 days] there is just too much tonnage,? said one of the London brokers.
Only a small handful of Black Sea cargoes were reported last week, with Clearlake Shipping and Total dragging the market down.
Clearlake Shipping, the chartering arm of energy giant Gunvor International, reportedly booked Thenamaris Ship Management"s 2006-built, 149,972 dwt Seadancer at W98.75 to load at Novorossiysk on February 20 for a trip back to the UK Continent.
On the same route, Total"s shipping company, CSSSA, was understood to have fixed the 2007-built, 159,000 dwt Aegean Horizon at W97.5 loading on February 22.