Tanker Rates Strengthened Slightly In Middle East, Asia

Friday, September 10, 1999
Freight rates for Korea-bound VLCCs out of the Middle East joined those for Japan in hitting W50 by Sept. 3, brokers said. At least one fixture of W50 was reported for Korea, up from around W47.5 earlier in the week as the Middle East VLCC market strengthened. Some 70 vessels of around 21 million tons were potentially available in the area in the next month, but a shortage of modern tonnage for September liftings suggested rates could strengthen further. "Owners will look to make further improvements," broker Gibson said in its weekly report. Other brokers said owners were holding out for higher rates are after being hurt by recent high bunker prices, and VLCC rates westbound were also strengthening. VLCC fixing to the U.S. Gulf reached W49 by the end of the week, again up from W47.5 at mid-week. Million barrel markets also began a recovery through the week, boosted by activity out of West Africa and inquiries for Novorossisk loading when the terminal reopens midway through the month. Suezmax rates out of West Africa to the U.S. hit W60 and in one reported case W65, up from W55 at midweek, brokers said. For the Caribbean W70 was reported. Modern Suezmax tonnage out of the Black Sea and Mediterranean could be expected to achieve W65 for Med and UK/Continent discharge, Gibson said. However, the Aframax market continued to be depressed, brokers said. In the North Sea W80 was reported for voyages to the Continent while cross Mediterranean trading was still pegged at around W75-77.5, although there was one reported fixture at W82.5. Some owners were talking about laying up vessels, one broker said. The Caribbean also remained depressed with 70,000 tonners to the U.S. held back to the W100-105 range. Clean tanker rates firmed slightly in the Middle East for long range vessels but most markets remained flat or fell away, brokers said. Average rates for 55,000 dwt vessels from the Middle East to Asia crept up to around W150, up a couple of points, due to reasonable activity and some scarcity of tonnage.

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