As charterers crawled slowly back to their offices this week, brokers said they were struggling to ascertain where exactly the market stood. Uncertainty over the size of future OPEC cuts, continued Iraqi delays as well as renewed talk of recession in the U.S. all conspired to create doubt over short-term tanker demand.
VLCCs heading West from the Mideast Gulf were fetching W100, while those going East were fetching W127, brokers said. Though this looks like a huge drop compared to the W182 that eastbound VLCCs were demanding during the first week of December, the figures are incomparable after the Worldscale Association completed its annual adjustment of flat rates on January 1.
Brokers said on Friday that rates should rally when Saudi Aramco releases its cargo nominations next week. Million-barrel ships have enjoyed sustained demand out of West Africa for journeys to the U.S., and the route has established itself at the W205 level. VLCCs have been fetching as much as W165 on similar routes, and W142.5 from West Africa to the Far East
, but brokers said these rates were based on the 2000 Worldscale schedule. The absence of exports from Ceyhan meant that million-barrel ships were enjoying less firm conditions in the Med.
Smaller ships did well in the Med, with 80,000 tonners getting W240, and even gaining similar rates in the North Sea. - (Reuters)