Middle East tanker markets are revving up while North Sea rates have gone into overdrive, brokers said last week. Mideast VLCC freight
rates climbed as Saudi August cargoes arrived amid expectations that more oil could be pumped. UK/Continent Aframax rates accelerated away with a 30 point (Worldscale) burst of speed reported earlier in the week. Brokers said modern 80,000 ton ships were commanding W250-260 ($9.50 per ton) for late July dates as the usual end-of-month rush to fulfill contracts took over.
The highest reported fixture was a hefty W267.5 ($10.00 per ton) for a vessel booked as a last minute replacement and another ship was said to have failed at W280 ($10.40 per ton).
But brokers were divided as to how far rates could climb. "There might be some slight increase, but most end of July cargoes are now covered and I don't see it going very much further," one broker said.
But others said they were still firming with W270 possible for prompt cargoes. Mediterranean levels, which soared ahead of the North Sea, had now levelled out with a three-tier market again in evidence. Modern ships were earning about W260 ($8.50 per ton), late 1980s vessels around W240-250 ($8.00) and older ships W210-215 ($7.00), brokers said. Caribbean Aframax rates were also on the rise with W235-240 ($9.50 per ton) reported for 70,000 ton upcoast U.S. liftings.