West Africa cargoes hit the spot
Transatlantic rates may recover to $30,000 this week.
AN INFLUX of crude cargoes in West Africa gave suezmax tanker owners trading in the transatlantic spot market hope that rates would recover from a three-month low.
Suezmax rates for the West Africa to US Gulf route started to rise at the end of last week after a four-week slide from $62,000 per day in mid-January to $17,850 per day last Thursday, as oil exporters released the early March cargoes.
Brokers said rates had already re-bounded to $20,000 per day as a rise in fixture activity took surplus tankers out of the spot market. They expect rates could climb to nearly $30,000 per day this week.
The Baltic Exchange TD5 route rate, from Nigeria to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, rose on Friday to W88.4, with time charter equivalent earnings of $19,750 per day.
?An influx of early March cargoes means sentiment is generally firming and tonnage is well balanced. The increase in activity means rates are slowly rising and this will carry on into next week. We are not expecting a huge spike, but a steady increase into the W90s and it may reach W100,? a London broker said.
US investment bank Dahlman Rose said rates were hovering around W85-W86, which is a time charter equivalent of around $20,000 per day.
US oil trader Koch was able to drive the rate down to W82.5 in the middle of last week. According to Geneva-based brokers Riverlake Shipping it fixed Euronav"s 1998-built 146,652 dwt Cap Georges and the 2006-built, 159,450 dwt Minerva Symphony at rates of W82.5 for West Africa to US Gulf voyages, loading in the first five days of next month.
By the time US refiner Sun Oil hit the market with three cargo loading requirements, the rate had started to turn upwards. Sun fixed three suezmax tankers last week at rates of around W85-W87 to ship Gulf of Guinea crude to the US, loading in the first 10 days of March. The fixtures involved the 1995-built, 149,997 dwt Venetia , 2004-built, 150,249 dwt Romantic and 2000-built, 149,999 dwt Majestic.
Meanwhile, Clarksons reported that UK oil major BP fixed the 2009-built, 164,772 dwt Wilsky last week to take Angolan crude to the US Gulf at a rate of W95.
This was higher than the market rate because of the prompt loading date of February 15.
Suezmax rates in the Black Sea and Mediterranean market remained at a five-year low last week, but brokers expected rates would rise due to a knock-on effect from increasing transatlantic rates.
?The Mediterranean market is quieter than in West Africa and there is more tonnage available. Owners may consider ballasting down to West Africa if the rates continue to firm there,? said a London broker.
The rate on the Baltic Exchange TD6 route, shipping 135,000-tonne cargoes from Novorossiysk to Augusta, were almost unchanged from W80, or $10,000 per day, at the start of last week, to W80.4, or $9,925 per day, on Friday.
?It is a steady market, with no pressure on rates, so we do not expect they will go anywhere,? said the London broker.
He pointed out that up to seven suezmax tankers were offered to cover the loading of just one of Algerian state company Sonatrach"s cargoes.
Norwegian brokers Fearnleys said suezmax Mediterranean rates had fallen during this month because delays through the Turkish Straits were shortened by weather improvements. London brokers said the delays were three days in either direction.
Although there were not many fixtures reported, there was interest last week for North African cargoes from south Asian refiners. RS Platou reported Indian Oil fixed 2009-built, 156,643 dwt Profit for a lumpsum of $2.4m to ship Libyan crude to the Indian east coast, loading March 1.