N. Sea Tanker Rates Slide

Tuesday, January 23, 2001
North Sea tanker trades have slid nearly 40 points to around W190 because last week's spree of fixing VLCCs transatlantic has left the North Sea virtually empty of oil, Reuters reported. "For the end of the month there's quite a few VLCCs and Suezmaxes (million-barrel tankers) fixed, and each of those takes up three or four cargoes that would normally go to Aframaxes (80,000 tonners)," said an Olso broker. "It's extremely quiet this week," said another Olso broker, pointing to the fact that only four tankers had been reported fixed from the North Sea on Tuesday, and only two on Monday. One trader with an independent U.S. refiner said that the recent 70-80 point spread between VLCCs and million-barrel tankers had caused charterers to opt for the bigger ships. "Now there's not as many cargoes around, and the laws of supply and demand have kicked in," he said. "But I don't think the North Sea is dry. I don't think it's anywhere near as dry as West Africa got." On Monday, London's Baltic Exchange downrated its estimate for North Sea tanker rates by 21 points to W202, but by Tuesday fixture reports showed two fixtures at W195 and another, by Exxon at W185.5. The Baltic downrated eight of its nine dirty tanker route assessments Monday, indicating widespread softness. - (Reuters)

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