Asia Tankers-VLCC Rates Softening
Owners waiting for charterers to release July cargoes next week.
Rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs) on key Asian routes are set to soften early next week before rebounding on the first wave of supertanker charters from the Middle East to Asia in July's fixture
programme, brokers said.
"Rates are rolling, skidding by half a point a day," said one Singapore VLCC broker on Friday.
That came after a raft of charters which saw around 26 supertankers fixed this week to transport crude from the Middle East to Asia from the end of June. That compared with ship broker expectations of about 20-25 cargoes.
There could be several more June cargoes still to come out over the next few days, although ship owners are waiting for July's fixture programme to be released in the latter part of next week, the Singapore broker said.
"Nothing will happen until mid- to late next week," the Singapore broker said.
He said it is unclear what impact Ramadan, which starts next week, will have on chartering activity.
More than 50 charters were concluded in the first 10 days of June. If there is a similar level of fixture activity for early July, then tonnage would tighten and freight rates increase, the broker said.
"The resistance among owners has prevailed and they have been holding hard to avoid giving away conquered ground," Norwegian ship broker Fearnley said in a note on Wednesday. Earnings are still "healthy" of about $55,000 per day.
A steady volume of supertanker cargoes from West Africa to Asia has kept freight rates above W60, brokers said.
"The past week we saw activity picking up again in West Africa, but with an ample tonnage list rates started to soften again," the Fearnley note added.
VLCC rates for the benchmark route from the Middle East to Japan were up to around W61 on Thursday, compared with around W60.50 last week, although they were trending lower after climbing to W62 on June 9.
Supertanker rates from West Africa to China dropped to W60.50 on Thursday, against W62.50 a week earlier.
Rates for 80,000-tonne Aframax tankers from Southeast Asia to East Coast Australia climbed close to W145 on Thursday, compared with W131 last week, on strong cargo volumes and tight vessel supply, brokers said.
Clean tanker rates from Singapore to Japan were close to W140 on Thursday, up from around W138 last Thursday, on reduced vessel supply, a Singapore clean tanker broker said.
Reporting by Keith Wallis