Clean Tanker Decline Deepens

Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Tumbling freight rates for clean tankers in the Atlantic have dropped steeply this week, and brokers pointed to the almost total closure of most transatlantic arbitrages as the reason.

"The Continent transatlantic market has collapsed with the close of the arb'," said one New York tanker broker. "I believe it's 100 percent closed now."

London's Baltic Exchange closed on Tuesday with its assessment of the Rotterdam to New York trade down by nearly nine points on the preceding day to $0.26.

Tankers for gasoline cargoes of 30,000 tons were being fixed at over $0.36 at the start of January. Traders said on Tuesday that the arbitrage would still be open for some types of gasoline if freight rates were to fall slightly.

The transatlantic decline has knocked on to Caribbean clean tanker trades, which lost 15 points on Tuesday to close at $0.25 for 30,000 ton cargoes to New York, according to the Baltic Exchange.

"There's been a build up of ships (in the Caribbean) with nowhere to go," said the New York broker. "It's also been kind of quiet on the demand side."

Italian brokers said that an announcement of measures to restrict single hulled tankers from Venice lagoon had had no effect on rates there, and was unlikely to do so.

"They've been discussing it for so many years, so we're not surprised," he said. "I wouldn't say there would be an impact, because in the past tanker charterers have been very sensitive about which ships they choose to enter the Venice lagoon."

The move was introduced last week by the ministry of the environment, he said. Both Agip and Enichem have refineries within Venice Bay. - (Reuters)

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