North Sea Rates Surge On Holiday Vessel Shortage

Friday, December 17, 1999
North Sea oil tanker rates surged spectacularly again on Dec. 13 on a shortage of vessels available before Christmas, shipping brokers said. Aframax 80,000 ton vessel rates shot up a further 25 Worldscale points to W150 ($5.50 per ton) from a highest seen of W125 ($4.25) on Friday, they said. "The North Sea has gone bananas. It is very tight on tonnage for modern ships up until loading dates of around December 27," a broker said. However, he said the second half of the week could go flat again as charterers completed fixing their December cargoes. Rates were also firming in the Mediterranean as pressure was exerted from the North Sea with cross journey rates of W105-110 ($3.60-3.75) the norm, brokers said. But Suezmax activity in the Mediterranean had not yet taken off despite the imminent restart of Iraqi exports from Ceyhan. One 130,000 ton ship was booked at W110 for Elf but failed, a broker said. He expected the French company might use one of its own vessels. A VLCC was also reported on subjects for likely loading from Ceyhan. In the Middle East, brokers said subjects had been lifted on the VLCC Jahre Pollux, which would dock at Mina al Bakr for Iraqi crude on Dec. 15. The cargo was reported to have been booked by Russian trader Ursa. Rates for the U.S. Gulf were edging up a couple of points to around W45 ($7.40 per ton) for the latest 250,000 cargo reported on the Flandre for Dec. 20. Other Mideast rates were also firming, brokers said. - (Reuters)
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