Tanker markets soared into orbit this week for August loading dates, but remained dull and depressed for September loading, brokers said.
London tanker brokers said late on Thursday that they were negotiating North Sea Aframax deals (70-80,000 tons) for August loading at W200, representing a rise of over 80 percent in the space of 48 hours.
But September cargoes were fixed at a much more sedate W110. Shell paid W175 for a Statoil owned ship heading to the northern Europe, and brokers said on Friday that W180 ($0.96 per barrel) had also been done. There was no evidence of anything firm at W200.
"It is reasonable to anticipate that further gains could be achieved for end month liftings," said London broker Gibsons.
Tanker owners in the Mideast Gulf VLCC market showed similar defiance on prompt dates, with the Tankers International alliance demanding W57.5 for a Malacca-bound cargo loading for two days later.
This was 40 percent over the prevailing market rate, but overall the tone was less bullish.
"Despite more activity and the refusal of some owners to trade at the prevailing rate level, the Middle East VLCC market slumped further with rates generally settling at around W40 for all destinations," said Gibsons in a report.
Oslo broker Fearnleys appeared to suggest the market had bottomed out. "The continuing dearth of cargoes pushed the VLCC market further downwards to levels where it becomes of limited interest for owners to charter out their tonnage," it said.
The West African trade to the U.S. was done at W100 on a million-barrel ship, again for a very prompt August 24 loading, but generally it softened to W90 ($1.18 per barrel) for September dates. VLCCs were demanding W57 ($0.83 per barrel) for westbound trips and W45 to Japan.
Brokers said the Mediterranean had remained flat at W103 for million-barrel fixtures and W138 for Aframaxes, while Caribbean upcoast trades lost about five points during the week to hit W155 ($1.14 per barrel).