Caribbean tanker rates edged up a notch on Monday because of ongoing backlogs caused by last week’s weather delays, brokers said. “We saw W305 done today for 70,000 tons,” said a U.S. broker. “The fog has lifted but there’s still a backlog. Some ships are running... five to seven days late.”
He said that lightering programs had also been affected. London brokers said that rates for million-barrel tankers continued to hold firm. London’s Baltic Exchange raised
its assessment of the benchmark route from Nigeria to Philadelphia by 10 points to reach W163.5, or $2.15 per barrel.
Brokers, however, said that Monday had been fairly quiet, and that the Baltic’s upgrade reflected gains made by the market on Friday.
“It’s pretty quiet today, but I guess that’s just a Monday thing,” said a broker. At the end of last week, he said that many stems were appearing, and that there was the prospect of more before the end of the month.
Monday morning’s fixture lists showed Exxon paying W161 for a million-barrel ship from Qua Iboe to the U.S. Gulf. Million-barrel freight from West Africa to the U.S. started the year at W205 from Nigeria to Philadelphia, but had fallen to W105 by the first week of February.
Brokers said that there were rumors of traders starting to look at doubling up million-barrel stems to put on VLCCs towards the end of the month in order to reduce the cost of freight. Routes from West Africa to Europe, which hit a severe low of W100 in the first week of February, had recovered to about W165 on Monday, as shown by a Repsol fixture from Qua Iboe to Spain. Million-barrel rates in the Mediterranean also followed the upward trend, reaching W152.5 on Monday on the Baltic Exchange’s tanker index.
Rates for VLCCs made small but significant gains last week, brokers said.
“The greatest improvement was seen for a modern VLCC in early position, which fixed in the region of W118 for a voyage to Indonesia,” said London tanker broker Gibsons, referring to Petronas’ charter of Frontline’s VLCC Front Duke. “While this may still be exceptional, the scarcity of tonnage for the first 20 days of March could still result in further improvements,” it added. Westbound VLCCs from the Mideast Gulf were demanding W83 on Monday, while those to Japan were calling for W93. - (Retuers)