Friday, November 27, 2015

Markets - VLCCs see healthy December cargo volumes

  Alexander the Great VLCC

VLCC activity has sharply increased in the past week or so, but rates remained flat. 
The December MEG programme was well under way this week with about 50 fixtures reported by Wednesday.

However, the latest burst of activity did not affect rates, which remained virtually flat, due to the selection of tonnage being larger than seen for some time, Fearnleys reported.

Earnings were still healthy on the MEG/East routes at about $65,000 per day and owners were carefully trying to secure the ‘right’ business to avoid idle days.

Continued delays both at BOT and also in Chinese ports prevailed, which could alter the tonnage supply during the next few weeks.   

The Atlantic remained active with continued activity both in North Sea and West Africa and rates for the major routes remained steady.

Owners expectations for a near term firmer market held and further battles will be seen going forward.

The past week has seen more activity for Suezmaxes, especially in West Africa. We are yet to see rates at expected levels, but there is definite firm undertone with TD20 currently at WS85. This firm trend was not only due to higher volumes ex West Africa, but also due to steady activity in other typical load areas, Fearnleys said.

Med/Black Sea rates held, not only due to increased activity, but also due to weather delays in ports and the Turkish straits. Firm rates for voyages West/East were also seen, due to limited number of owners willing to leave the western market coming into what is expected to be the best period of the year.

Fixture wise, North Sea and Baltic areas proved to be rather quiet during the past week. The anticipated replacement rush expected last weekend due to bad weather did not materialise.

With a lot of VLCCs fixed ex Hound Point for the first half of December, the North Sea market suffered and we have seen a downward correction in rates for both markets, Fearnleys said.

Fixtures reported by brokers included the 2003-built VLCC ‘Sea Lion’ which was reportedly taken by BG for three years at $38,000 per day.

Litasco was said to have taken the 2002-built Suezmax ‘Silia T’ for 18 months at $34,000, while ST Shipping was reported to have fixed the LR2 ‘FS Endeavour’ for 12 months at $28,000 per day.

Concordia Maritime has confirmed the charter of an IMO II/III class MR.

It will be chartered jointly with Stena Weco. Concordia Maritime's share amounts to 50%. The contract, which comes into effect at the end of November, is for two years with an option for a further one to six months.

The vessel, whose name or day rate was not revealed, was built in 2014 and is an Eco-design tanker. She will be operated by Stena Weco.

“This vessel represents an interesting complement to our existing fleet of PMAX and IMOIIMAX vessels. The transaction strengthens our position in the MR segment. We believe in a continuation of the strong market, and we have a highly competent partner in Stena Weco,” said Kim Ullman, Concordia Maritime CEO.

In the Handysize segment, BP reportedly took the 2001-built ‘Valle de Castiglia’ and the 2008-built‘Valcadore’for 12 months at $17,000 and $16,400 per day, respectively.  

In the S&P market, a couple of Aframaxes featured on brokers’ sales lists. These were the 1999-built ‘Pacific London’ reportedly sold to Bakri Navigation for $15.5 mill, while Indonesia interests were believed to have taken the 2000-built ‘Aegean Legend’ for $18.5 mill. 

The two 2008-built MRs ‘Hellas Explorer’ and ‘Hellas Enterprise’were said to have been sold to Empire Navigation for $26 mill each in an en bloc deal, which included a timecharter to Shell to 26th August or 25th October next year at $14,750 per day gross.

A few newbuilding contracts were reported, including news that Kyklades contracted two Suezmaxes at JMU for 2018 deliveries at $65 mill each. 

Eletson was thought to have firmed up a fourth Aframax at SWS for $51 mill. She is to be delivered in 2018, while Sinotrans was reported as ordering two MRs at CSSC OME for 2017 deliveries. 

Stena Bulk has now confirmed an order for three IMOIIMAX types with CSSC OME, formerly GSI.
The company also agreed an option for two more in a deal worth $200 mill.

The first delivery is planned for the end of 2017, following which, the vessels will be delivered in three-monthly intervals.

They are sisterships to the 10 ordered in 2012 from the same yard, the first four of which were delivered earlier this year.

Beleaguered Golden Ocean has announced that has agreed to convert two Capesize newbuilding contracts at New Times Shipbuilding to Suezmaxes, which were then sold to Fredriksen’s sister company Frontline.

At the lower end of the market in tonnage terms,the three Gothia Tanker Alliance partners have ordered four 16,300 dwt intermediate product/chemical tankers each fitted with LNG propulsion systems.

Furetank Rederi has ordered two, while Rederi Älvtank and Thun Tankers have contracted one each at Avic Dingheng Shipbuilding. The vessels will be delivered in 2018/2019.

FKAB and Furetank were responsible for the design. The vessels will fulfil the forthcoming Tier III rules by being fitted with dual fuel/LNG propulsion, including LNG in port consumption, LNG for inert gas operations, power production with floating frequency, battery backup (UPS) to minimise the use of auxiliary engines.

They will also be fitted with a ballast water treatment system and will have the notation Ice Class 1A and Alternative Propulsion System.

Commercial management will be undertaken by Furetank Chartering within the Gothia Tanker Alliance.

The LPG newbuilding spree continued with four 38,000 cu m vessels booked at HMD for 2017-2018 deliveries.

DHT Holdings has taken delivery of the first of its six newbuildings on 23rd November, 2015, from Hyundai Heavy Industries. 

She was named ‘DHT Jaguar’ and has entered the spot market. 

DHT claimed that the newbuildings were fully funded. The next newbuilding is scheduled to deliver in early January, 2016.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

US destroys 280 ISIS oil trucks in Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor

The USA just destroyed 280 ISIS oil trucks

American warplanes destroyed around 280 of ISIS' oil tanker trucks along the Syria-Iraq border on Monday, U.S. officials told NBC News.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said that A-10 Warthogs and AC-130 Specter gunships launched 24 precision-guided bombs and strafed the tanker trucks with heavy machine-gun and cannon fire.
The vehicles were gathered at a "fuel collection point" in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor.

The planes dropped leaflets warning the drivers to "run immediately or you will be killed," according to the officials, adding that similar leaflets were dropped during U.S. airstrikes last week that destroyed 116 oil tanker trucks.
In addition, the officials said, the planes make several low-level passes over the targets prior to the air assault.

The airstrikes came as Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC's TODAY he believed the Islamist extremists would be overcome.

"I believe ISIS is going to be defeated. ISIS is not 10-feet tall," Kerry said in an exclusive interview. "The pace has to be picked up and more needs to be done and everybody understands that."

ISIS has come under renewed focus after claiming responsibility for the massacre in Paris as well as blowing up Russia's Metrojet passenger jet — attacks in which a total of more than 350 people died.
Russia and France have ratcheted up their bombardment of the country in response to the incidents.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lower oil could force Opec 'surprise move': Hansen

  • More pressure on oil could force Opec's hand at December meeting
  • Brent and WTI both fell over the weekend before staging a recovery Monday
  • Venezuela's oil minister warns Opec must not get into a price war
  • Goldman Sachs boss says there is a "15% chance" of $20/b oil in 2016
  • Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia using savings to keep pressure on
The next Opec meeting on December 4 is certain to be animated. Photo: iStock

By Martin O'Rourke

A further deterioration in the oil price could force global oil cartel Opec to temper its controversial supply-and-rule strategy at next month's Vienna summit, says Saxo Bank's head of commodities strategy Ole Hansen.

"Opec probably won't change its strategy, but the continued price deterioration may spark a surprise move from the cartel to stabilise prices," Hansen told "The low price and the pain it's inflicting on everyone will be the main topic."

Opec meets in Vienna on December 4.

Front-month Brent crude rebounded approximately 5% during the European session to $44.75/barrel at 1403 GMT amid news Saudi Arabia might cooperate with non-Opec members on oil-price stabilisation. Front-month WTI was at $41.60/b.

Goldman Sachs Michele Della Vigna this morning had told the BBC that there was a "15% chance" that prices could go as low as $20/b in 2016. That followed on from comments from Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio del Pino Sunday that the cartel could not allow an oil-price war to develop, especially with an Iranian oil production boost looming.

"The addition of Iranian oil in late Q1 will only increase the problem so in that sense it will be a topic [at the meeting] and one that has several geopolitical implications," says Hansen. "The current outlook supports the lower-for longer-price expectation."

The removal of sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers in July could release up to 1 million b/d onto an already flooded market. Opec has been ahead of its monthly target of 31 million b/d (itself up this year from the former target of 30 mil b/d) by more than 1 million b/d on average.

In October, Opec oil production was at 31.382 mil b/d.

US oil production meanwhile — the clear target of Opec's market-share grab strategy set in stone at last November's meeting — has managed to stay resilient despite the enormous pressure on the bottom line of many shale oil producers in North America.

Current oil inventories are way ahead of the five-year average in the US
"Opec's strategy has worked in the sense that the market share has increased and US production has slowed but a heavy price has so far been paid," says Hansen.

"A low point [in the oil price] is going to be seen during the next 3-6 months," he says. "A mild winter combined with the seasonal rise in US inventories and the return of Iranian oil will create a very challenging environment during this time."

That makes a return to the $100/b oil prices of the summer of 2014 unlikely, but not completely out of the question, Saxo Bank's head of commodities believes.

"The combination of capex cuts and a continued rise in demand will trigger the need for higher prices over the coming years," he says. "A return to $100/b is most likely only going to occur if supported by a major geopolitical event as US producers will have increased production dramatically before that level is ever reached."

Meanwhile, even kingpin Saudi Arabia is feeling the pain as the kingdom delves into its savings to keep the pressure on. A nasty battle may yet turn nastier next month.

Martin O'Rourke is managing editor at

Friday, November 20, 2015

Markets-Large crude carriers marking time

VLCC'CROWN UNITY'01 by sspalato

Another slow week was witnessed in the VLCC market as charterers finished their November programme.
Although the BOT and Saudi stems have been released, charterers kept a low profile, Fearnleys reported. The reason could be that tonnage appears to be fairly ample for the first half of December, including those vessels rolling over from this month. 

The Atlantic also lost its recent steam. The arbitrage was not working in North Sea/East destinations, resulting in several charters failing. In West Africa and the Caribbean, owners also had to accept lower rates, as more tonnage arrived.

Suezmaxes also saw a drop in rates again, especially in West Africa where an overhang of November tonnage caused a build up. Rates in UK/Con/Med were being quoted in the low WS80s. However, rate levels could pick up again when proceeding further into the December loading programme, Fearnleys said. In contrast Black Sea/Med rates held firm as more weather delays in Med ports and the Turkish Straits - up to eight days northbound and up to six days southbound.

The North Sea/Baltic Aframax market did not produce the anticipated rush of fixtures. Charterers appeared top be ahead of the game and fixed vessels on forward loading dates under the radar, keeping the sentiment more or less unchanged. By the middle of this week, business had gone a bit quiet before the early December stems emerge. Going forward rates are expected to firm.

In the Black Sea/Med activity was still good, but as delays in some ports reduced, charterers managed to keep rates at around the WS115 level. Cargoes ex Black Sea were being worked up to 10th December and with the delays in the Straits, Fearnleys expected rates to remain firm going into December.

Period charters reported recently include unknown operators fixing the 2008-built Aframax ‘Ace’ for three years at $25,500 per day and Valero taking the 2008-built LR1 ‘Energy Centaur’ for two years at $25,000 per day.

In the MR sector period rates seemed to have firmed slightly illustrated by brokers reporting that unknown interests had fixed the 2015-built ‘Al Betroleya’ for 12 months at $19,350 and Trafigura reportedly fixing the 2008-built ‘Kriti Ruby’ for 12 months at $18,250 per day.

In the S&P sector, Ridgebury Tankers has put its fleet of Suezmaes, Aframaxes and MRs up for sale, presumably to cash in on a firm secondhand market. It was thought that the company will keep its VLCC fleet.

Brokers reported the sale of the 1998-built Suezmax ‘Cap Laurent’ to Indian-based Seven Island Shipping for $20.5 mill. Another Suezmax, the 2000-built ‘DHT Trader’ was believed to have been committed to Greek interests for $27 mill. The high price was due to the vessel being fitted with epoxy coated tanks, brokers said.

The newly built MRs ‘Dong-A Themis’ and ‘Dong-A Triton’ were said to have been sold to Greek interests for $35 mill each in a deal, which was thought to have included a timecharter attached.

TORM was said to have disposed of the 1999-built MRs ‘Torm Anne’ and ‘Torm Gunhild’ to unknown interests for about $10.8 mill in an en bloc deal, while the 1999-built MR ‘Rainbow Quest’ was believed committed to Greek buyers for $10 mill.

In the newbuilding segment, Chandris was thought to have swopped a bulker for a pair of Aframaxes.
According to reports from Singapore, Cosco Dalian has agreed to cancel one of two 82,000 dwt bulk carriers ordered by the Greek company a year or so ago. The cancelled vessel was originally scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2016.

However, the delivery dates for the Aframaxes were said to be the fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, respectively, suggesting new contracts. The price was claimed to be confidential.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has been awarded a contract to build two VLCCs for Maran Tankers Management (MTM).

According to DSME, the two VLCCs will be built at Okpo and will be delivered in 2017.

This is the third VLCC batch order received by DSME this year from the Angelicoussis controlled Shipping Group, as MTM had ordered two VLCCs in January and another two in April. In May, MTM also ordered a pair of Suezmaxes.

Singapore-based Active Shipping was thought to have ordered up to four Suezmaxes at HHI.

Minerva was also rumoured to have ordered four Aframaxes at Namura for 2017 deliveries and somewhat surprisingly, Vitol was named as the contractor of two Suezmaxes at Sungdong, also for 2017 deliveries.

Another LPG carrier contract came to light this time involving Navigator who was said to have ordered a 38,000 cu m unit at HMD for August 2017 delivery for $50 mill. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

OPEC Targets U.S. Shale, But Hits Canada Instead

 A bucket loader digs for oil sands at a mine in this aerial photograph taken near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on June 4, 2015.
A bucket loader digs for oil sands at a mine in this aerial photograph taken near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on June 4, 2015.Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg 

OPEC took a swing at U.S. shale and knocked down Canada.

Threatened by surging production from North America, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has been pumping above its quota for 17 months as it seeks to take market share from higher-cost regions. The resulting 60 percent price crash is hitting Alberta harder than Texas.

Canadian producers are struggling to cut the cost of extracting bitumen from the oil sands, and their other wells are failing to match the efficiency gains of U.S. rivals, a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis shows. While output keeps rising in the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. shale play, companies are slowing output from wells in Alberta and have shelved 18 oil-sands projects during the downturn, according to ARC Financial Corp.
“OPEC wants to hinder shale from its strong growth trajectory but there are higher-cost producers, such as in the oil sands of Canada, that are in the line of fire,” said Peter Pulikkan, an analyst at BI in New York. “Shale will eventually be impacted but it’s not the first on the list.”

New Policy

In a policy shift a year ago, the 12-nation cartel decided against propping up oil prices, keeping its output target at 30 million barrels a day even as the supply glut worsened. It has exceeded that ceiling since June 2014 and pumped 32.2 million barrels a day in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In Alberta, high extraction costs and oil price discounts relative to global benchmarks are poised to continue crimping output, Pulikkan and BI analysts Michael Kay, Gurpal Dosanjh, Andrew Cosgrove, Rob Barnett, Cheryl Wilson and William Foiles said in research published Wednesday. Production, excluding bitumen extraction, dropped about 13 percent this year through July, That compares with a roughly 19 percent increase in output from Permian wells over the same period.

“We are one of the highest-cost basins in the world,” said Rafi Tahmazian, a Calgary-based fund manager at Canoe Financial LP. He predicted more job losses as Canadian producers try to save money and stay profitable with low prices. “We’re constantly working to bring down those costs.”

U.S. crude has plummeted from a $107.26 closing high in New York on June 20 of last year to just above $40 a barrel. The Canadian heavy-oil benchmark is trading at about $15 less than that.

Slower Rebound

Parts of Canada’s energy industry have been resilient. Existing oil-sands projects have kept production flowing and the weaker Canadian currency has helped exporters. Still, Canadian production is poised to be slower to rebound than U.S. shale in a market recovery.

New oil-sands projects require long investment lead times and the Canadian dollar will strengthen along with oil prices, eroding the currency advantage, according to Manuj Nikhanj, co-head of energy research at ITG Investment Research in Calgary. Investors are shying away from financing Alberta producers because of an increase in provincial levies, Nikhanj said in an e-mail.

There’s a risk that the U.S. eats all of Canada’s lunch, according to BI’s Pulikkan. Producers have been awaiting higher prices to turn on a backlog of U.S. shale wells that have been drilled and capped. Once they come on stream, they could push prices back down, rendering Canadian output uncompetitive yet again, he said.

“Before they even have a chance to get off the ground, shale will likely beat them to the punch,” Pulikkan said.

ConocoPhillips approves $900 million project in National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

ConocoPhillips' CD5 drill site near the Colville River on the North Slope. CD5 was the first oil development within the boundaries of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

ConocoPhillips has approved funding for its Greater Mooses Tooth development on Alaska's North Slope, a $900 million project expected to yield 30,000 barrels of oil daily at its peak.

Production is expected to begin in 2018 at the field in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an Indiana-sized Arctic reserve.

Production at the field would be the first time oil has flowed from federal lands on the reserve. Oil also recently began flowing from the oil company's CD5 project within the reserve boundaries, but that was on land owned by Alaska Native corporations.

The Bureau of Land Management manages the reserve and is working on a broad management plan in the area.

“We are pleased to have been able to work through key permitting issues with the Corps of Engineers and BLM that now allows us to move into the development phase," said Joe Marushack, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska.

BLM permitted the project last month, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a federal wetlands permit in January. As "new oil" under the state's tax regime, passed in 2013, the project will get state tax incentives. If prices remain low when production begins, its tax rate could drop to zero because the minimum tax wouldn't apply, said Ken Alper, a state Revenue Department official.

The project requires a new gravel pad, a 7.7-mile road, facilities and pipelines. Plans call for an initial nine wells and up to 33 wells, with oil processed at the existing Alpine Central Facility.

Construction will begin in early 2017, with peak winter-season hiring estimated at about 700, plus hundreds more support jobs, the company said in a statement.

Production will come from lands owned by the federal government as well as the Kuukpik Corp. and Arctic Slope Regional Corp., a pair of Alaska Native corporations.

ConocoPhillips will operate the field as majority owner, with Anadarko holding a 22 percent interest. The companies own similar stakes in CD5.

The funding approval by the oil companies' boards came because CD5 was successfully brought into production, Marushack said.

"It's another one of these projects that will help us build out NPR-A and the Alpine area," Marushack said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Supplying the European domestic markets

 Port of Hamburg

Axel Mattern explains how developments at the Port of Hamburg will further optimise and enhance its efficiency as a key supply route for the European domestic market Increasing cargo and product handling coupled with growing traffic volumes has prompted Port of Hamburg executives to further optimise and digitise their operations to manage demand.

As Germany’s largest universal port the facility is a crucial conduit for the supply of European domestic markets – serving a population of up to 450 million customers.

During the first half of 2015, the Port handled 23,594 million metric tons of bulk cargo, which offset the slight drop of 3.3% in liquid cargo, which had a throughput of 6,732 million tons.

Axel Mattern, CEO of the Port of Hamburg explains that the facility will undergo a series of developments to streamline certain operations as well as vessel waiting times.

The turning circle for mega ships will be expanded to allow pilots and tugs turning mega-ships ‘on a pin’ with greater ease. Additionally, a larger turning circle is planned for container ships as part of the upcoming western extension of the Eurogate Container Terminal in Waltershofer docks.

Work is also planned to deepen and widen the navigation channel of the lower and outer Elbe to allow for oceangoing vessels with a draft of 13.5 meters to be able to leave Hamburg irrespective of the tide and those with a draft of 14.5 meters with high tide.

The port contains numerous oil companies and other firms who specialise in the processing liquid raw materials in addition to several tank terminal facilities for oil products and chemicals.

Mattern says: ‘Due to its geographical location, the Port of Hamburg already offers good connections to the road and railway network as well as to the inland waterways and the central European road and railway network.

‘To cope with increasing cargo handling and traffic volumes as well as the international competitive constraints, these connections must be further optimised. In the port itself, the existing traffic network must be expanded and modernised. New connections must be created in order to relieve existing traffic junctions to lighten the load on existing traffic intersections.

‘In addition, the use of innovative, IT-based traffic information systems and the planned port traffic control centre will ensure improved traffic flows and optimum usage of the port routes.’

Mattern, CEO of the Port of Hamburg will begin the first day of the Tank Storage Germany conference at the Hamburg Messe on November 25 and 26 discussing developments at the port. For more information and to register to visit, click here

Koole Terminals sold to institutional investors


EQT Infrastructure has reached an agreement to sell Koole Terminals to institutional investors advised by JP Morgan Asset Management.

The agreement is subject to the positive advice of the company's works council.

Koole Terminals was born from an integration of Koole Tanktransport and NOVA Terminals – both of which were acquired by EQT Infrastructure in 2011. Koole Terminals has eight terminals in northwest Europe with around two million m3 and 85% of that is located in Rotterdam.

Since the acquisition and integration, Koole Terminals' storage capacity has more than tripled through organic capacity expansion and add-on acquisitions.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kosmos Hits Gas in Mauritania


Another discovery has been made offshore Mauritania by Kosmos Energy. The US independent made a gas discovery with the drilling of the Marsouin-1 exploration well in the northern portion of Block C-8 using the Atwood Achiever drillship.

Kosmos said that the discovery, its second major discovery in 2015, was a “significant, play-extending gas discovery”.

Based on preliminary analysis of drilling and wireline logging results, Marsouin-1 encountered at least 70 meters (230 feet) of net gas pay in Upper and Lower Cenomanian intervals comprised of excellent quality reservoir sands. Located approximately 60 km north of the basin-opening Tortue-1 gas discovery (renamed Ahmeyim), Marsouin-1 was drilled in nearly 2,400 meters of water.

“Marsouin-1 is our second major discovery of 2015, extending our 100% success rate in the outboard Cretaceous petroleum system offshore Mauritania and Senegal. Well-to-seismic calibration has significantly de-risked the discovered resource base, as well as future prospects in the basin. Importantly, the well results have validated our charge model and given us growing confidence in our ability to predict the oil and gas potential of this emerging, large-scale petroleum system. We have a disciplined exploration and appraisal program planned to further unlock the basin,” said Andrew G. Inglis, chairman and CEO.

The Atwood Achiever drillship will now proceed to the Ahmeyim-2 location in the southern part of Mauritania’s Block C-8 where it will drill the top-hole section of the well. The drillship is then expected to sail to Senegal where it will spud Guembeul-1, the first in a series of wells to delineate the Greater Tortue area, before year-end.

NNPC Nigeria on “Verge” of Oil Find in Lake Chad


Nigeria says it is on the verge of making a “significant oil find” in the Lake Chad region in northeast Nigeria.  News of the oil find came from NNPC’s MD, Ibe Kachikwu  in a statement released by the company.

“There are signs from the latest 3D seismic studies that oil may be very close to being found now in Lake Chad,” Kachikwu was quoted as saying in a statement issued by NNPC spokesman Ohi Alegbe. “I am optimistic that by the end of the year we should be able to announce something major on this,” he said in a presentation in Lagos, according to the statement.

Kachikwu was quoted as saying it would be important to pass the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill aimed at overhauling the oil sector, and to encourage investment in the country’s oil and gas industry.

Kachikwu stated that the NNPC is “projecting the inflow of $20 billion in 2016 to enable the corporation to fund major projects,” said NNPC spokesman Alegbe.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Markets-A roller coaster ride


The VLCC market saw dwindling activity last week, as charterers disappeared in an attempt to cool down the recent firming trend. 
Hence, fewer official cargoes were quoted and charterers went quietly after tonnage off market to cover their requirements, Fearnleys said in the broker’s weekly report.

However, owners maintained their optimism and enthusiasm, but as the quiet spell dragged on, lower rates were accepted.

By Wednesday of this week, about 110 cargoes had been fixed ex MEG for loading this month and the question on everyone’s lips was - how many uncovered cargoes were left? There was ample tonnage around and continued downward pressure on freight levels was expected.

Less interest from charterers was also seen in West Africa, which also resulted in weaker rate levels.

In the past week, Suezmaxes saw limited activity ex West Africa and rates went sideways. The overhang of tonnage able to fix for third week of November cargoes put downward pressure on rates to around the WS85 level for UK/Cont/Med voyages.

The remainder of the third week is expected to be quiet, and we do not foresee any strengthening of the market again before the second week of December, Fearnleys forecast.

The Black Sea/Med region had enjoyed firm rates, but this region also seemed to have cooled off as November cargoes were basically covered.

In contrast, the North Sea and Baltic areas were very busy last week as cargoes materialised for the third week of this month. Weather delays, resulting in replacements and ullage problems in certain strategic ports on the Continent, led to more challenging tonnage availability in an already active market.

At time of writing (Wednesday), the momentum was still in place and rates were expected to firm. In the Med/Black Sea, a lot more activity was seen this week. This increased cargo activity combined with a lot of tonnage tied up in several key ports helped owners push the market up to WS115-120 levels.

Delays in the Turkish Straits were still quoted as lasting around five days and as a result, we expect the firm trend for Suezmax/Aframax tonnage to continue for the rest of November, Fearnleys concluded.

As can be seen from the third quarter results stories below, most owners and operators are reasonable bullish going forward for all segments of the tanker sector well into next year.

The events on the spot market for large tankers described above are believed to be just a temporary blip, evidenced by charterers continuing to lock in tonnage on long term deals at relatively high levels. This could be construed as hedging against a rising market.

In other charter news, KNOT Offshore Partners (KNOP) has confirmed that Statoil has taken up an option to extend the timecharter on shuttle tanker ‘Bodil Knutsen’.

The extension is for one additional year, to May, 2017, leaving Statoil with two remaining one-year options available, KNOP said.

The vessel was originally fixed in May, 2011, for a period of five years, following her delivery from DSME. Neither the original or extension terms were disclosed.

Croatian tanker owner and operator Tankerska Next Generation (TNG) has signed a 12 month charter for its newbuilding MR ‘Pag’.

‘Pag’ is expected to be delivered next month from SPP Shipbuilding and will be chartered out to an unnamed interest at around $19,300 per day, TNG confirmed. An option was also agreed for an additional six months trading at about $19,500 per day.

Elsewhere, brokers reported that Valero had fixed the 2008-built VLCC ‘Bunga Kasturi Enam’ for two years at $42,500 per day.

Koch was also active entering the market to pick up the 2002-built Suezmax ‘Triathlon’for two years at $35,000 per day and the 2009-built Aframax ‘Raysut’ for 12 months at $28,000 per day.

A couple of LR2s found employment, according to brokers’ reports. Indian refiner Reliance fixed the 2016-built ‘Kleon’ for 12 months, plus a 12 month option period, for $27,750 per day, while Shell reportedly took the 1999-built LR2 ‘Astrea’ for two years at $25,500 per day. 

LR1s also proved popular with Litasco fixing the 2009-built‘Arctic Flounder’for 18 months at $23,000 per day.

In the MR sector, Petrobras was said to have taken the 2007-built sisters ‘Apostolos’ and ‘Atrotos’ for three years at $17,750 per day, while Team Tankers was believed to have taken the 2006-built ‘Ioannis 1’ for 12 months at $19,000 per day and Trafigura was said to have locked in the 2015-built ‘Marlin Ametrine’ for  between three to five years at $17,000 per day.

Reports of orders seemed to have cooled recently but Jiangsu New Hantong Heavy Industry was said to have won an order to build three LR1s for Conti for delivery from the end of 2017.

Rumours were circulating as this news letter went to press that Capital had ordered three Ice Class Aframaxes at Daehan, while another pair of VLGCs were thought ordered by Naftomar at Jiangnan for 2017 deliveries.

In the S&P market, CSSC was believed to have purchased the 1997-built VLCC ‘Cosmic Jewel’ for $30.5 mill. Large tankers of this vintage are either earmarked for storage or for a conversion project.

Remaining with elderly tankers, Arya was thought to have committed the 1994-built Suezmax ‘Al Mubarakh’ for $13.2 mill and Far East buyers were believed to have purchased the 1998-built Suezmax ‘Mindanao’ for $21 mill and unknown interests were said to have bought the 1999-built Aframax ‘Explorer’ for $15.8 mill. 

A couple of Handysize tankers were reported as changing hands. These were the 2002-built ‘Elbtank Denmark’ for $11 mill to undisclosed interests and the 2001-built ‘Frida Maersk’ to Far East-based buyers for $12.4 mill.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

CSSC pays $30m for 18-year-old VLCC


Brokers report that the Hong Kong shipowning and leasing arm of China State Shipbuilding Co (CSSC) has snapped up the 18-year-old  Cosmic Jewel VLCC from Eastern Pacific for $30m.

CSSC has been in the market for a number of older VLCCs of later for oil storage purposes off Singapore.

The sale of Cosmic Jewel leaves Eastern Pacific with just one VLCC left, the 15-year-old Maritime Jewel.

China has been buying up oil in vast quantities this year while it remains cheap to boost its national reserves.

Nigerian crude oil values plummeting on limited buying interest

 The oil industry is highly corrupt, with 136 million barrels of crude oil worth $11¿billion (£7.79 billion) were illegally siphoned off in just two years from 2009 to 2011

The Nigerian crude oil market remains under pressure -- many grades have lost around $1/b in value since the start of October -- as an abundance of sweet crude and high freight rates have failed to excite interest from refinery buyers.

With traders also saying Nigerian grades account for the bulk of the estimated 65 million barrels or so still unsold from November and December West African crude programs, flagship Qua Iboe hit a 10-month low Wednesday with smaller grade Escravos at a 6-1/2 year trough, Platts data showed.

"There is a big overhang, with such cheap Urals and Azeri [Light in Europe] for instance, European refineries can take closer grades and that is clearly affecting WAF grades," one European refinery trader said.

Qua Iboe was assessed Wednesday at Dated Brent plus $0.20/b, the lowest since January 13 and down from Dated Brent plus $1.25/b at the start of October. Escravos at Dated Brent minus $0.15/b, its lowest value since April 17, 2009, when it was assessed at Dated Brent minus $0.175/b.

Bonny Light and Forcados, also premium Nigerian grades, are down $1.00/b and 90 cents/b, respectively, since the beginning of October, with the latter at Dated Brent plus $0.20/b -- the lowest since mid-July.

Bonga -- which has dropped 90 cents/b since the beginning of October to Dated Brent plus $0.10/b -- was offered by Vitol both Tuesday and Wednesday in the Platts Market on Close assessment process, without attracting interest even as an offer for an early December cargo dropped to Dated Brent minus $0.15/b Wednesday.

Other Platts-assessed Nigerian grades -- Agbami, Akpo, Brass River, Erha and Usan -- have also weakened. Naphtha-rich grades Agbami and Akpo are now both a $1/b discount to Dated Brent.


The loss of value can be attributed to a number of factors -- pressure from high freight rates, competing Mediterranean and North Sea grades and general weakness in refinery margins, which have improved over the past week but not enough to counteract the glut of sweet crude.

Additionally in Europe, Urals' values are at their lowest levels in more than a year, providing better margins than sweets and, as a result, a number of European refineries have switched slates to heavier, sourer grades.

India, which normally takes numerous Nigerian cargoes every month, has been taking some additional December-loading cargoes for its January tenders, said traders, but the amount will not be enough to clear the overhang.

"It is quite a difficult time to be a seller," a crude trader said.


Arbitrage to the US is always being considered, traders said, though Europe will likely be the final destination.

"The US will resist buying Dec because of [year-end] inventory closing...[so] the arb to US is not open, but it works indirectly because the US can siphon off some Azeri and Urals and when that does not remain cheap, as it is currently, WAF can price in [to Europe]," one crude trader said.

--Gillian Carr,
--Edited by Dan Lalor,

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

China gets back to buying West African crude in November

A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province as China loadings of West African crude are seen bouncing back in November. Photo: Reuters
A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in Wuhan, Hubei province as China loadings of West African crude are seen bouncing back in November. Photo: Reuters

China’s loadings of West African crude oil were set to bounce back in November from a multi-year low hit the previous month, a Reuters survey of oil traders and shipping fixtures showed, due to more
importing companies there and higher refinery margins.

The boost helped press overall exports to Asia to 1.74 million bpd, a three-month high. But they remained anaemic compared with earlier in the year. In April, a spike in buying in India pressed West African bookings to Asia to 2.4 million bpd.

China, a major buyer of West African crude oil, went cold as a buyer in October amid plummeting Asian refining margins and a build up in stored oil.

Buyers in Europe and the US stepped in, with the latter taking more than two dozen West African cargoes for October loading.

But a bounce back in Asian refinery margins, as well as a new slate of domestic Chinese refineries allowed to import oil, helped to boost demand for November-loading oil.

“The US and Europe carried the candle in October,” one trader said of West Africa loadings. “But now China is back and showing interest.”

Traders said there would be more Chinese storage space free by the time the cargoes booked now would arrive, in contrast to the 4 million barrels that were stranded off an eastern port earlier this month.

Additionally, China also more than doubled, to 87.6 million tonnes, the 2016 crude oil import quota for non-state companies.

Despite this, the 918,000 barrels per day (bpd) booked to load in West Africa in November for the world’s largest energy consumer was still relatively subdued compared with earlier in the year, and stood below the 2015 running average of 965,000 bpd.

The slip in November bookings to India added to a backlog of nearly 15 million barrels of unsold Nigerian oil.

Angolan oil, which is favoured by buyers in China, has fared somewhat better, but prices for some grades, such as Pazflor, are still under serious pressure.

Rising US Inventories Drive Crude Oil Prices Sharply Lower

Aerial Photography

Crude oil prices fell sharply overnight as rising U.S. inventories continue to be a major theme driving this market, says ANZ in its morning note. “API [American Petroleum Institute] data suggest U.S. crude oil inventories rose 6.3 million barrels last week.” The note adds Iraq has loaded around 10 tankers in recent weeks to deliver crude to U.S. ports in November, which is also increasing pressure on U.S. shale producers. However, prices have bounced off lows in early trading with Nymex prices now up 27 cents at $43.20/barrel, Brent prices are up 27 cents $46.08/barrel. 

Write to Lucy Craymer at

Monday, November 9, 2015

Strain of low oil prices apparent even at plush Gulf meeting

Oil pumps work at sunset Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain.  Consumer prices across the 19-country eurozone fell ...

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- On stage only a short time after the United Arab Emirates said it would increase its oil production despite low worldwide prices, the oil and gas minister of neighboring Oman didn't pull any punches.

"This is (a) man-made crisis in our industry we have created. ... And I think all we're doing is irresponsible," Mohammed bin Hama al-Rumhy said as his Emirati counterpart forced a smile next to him.

Even among friends, the bottoming-out of oil prices, which are down more than 50 percent since the middle of last year, has strained both budgets and relationships across the Gulf and other oil-producing countries.

And while Emirati officials at the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference said Monday they believed prices will head back up into next year, others offered a more pessimistic view.

"It's a movement of an era of scarcity to one of abundance; it's a movement from a world of unexpectedly strong demand and tight supplies to a world of ample supplies — even oversupplies — and weaker demands," said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS and the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the history of oil.

"OPEC's not the only balance of the market. The United States is back in the role of swing producer, a role it hasn't exerted in six decades," he said.

Fluctuating oil prices are nothing new, but this time the U.S. has found itself roaring back into the industry with the mass production of shale oil and reduced dependence on imports.

U.S. shale, a weakening economy in China and other factors have pushed prices down. On Monday, Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was at $47.63 in London, down from well over $100 a barrel last year.

While the U.S. production has dialed back due to low prices, even more oil will soon enter the market, including an expected flood of Iranian exports once sanctions are lifted under a landmark nuclear deal.

Despite that, the Emirati energy minister said he believed prices would rise in 2016, even as he said his country planned to ramp up production to 3.5 million barrels of oil a day from a current 2.9 million.

The Emirates was the world's sixth-largest oil producer in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That 3.5 million barrel production will come in the "next two to three years," said Abdulla Nasser al-Suwaidi, the director-general of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

"We are hopeful that we will see in 2016 ... a correction," Emirati Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed al-Mazrouei said. "Don't ask me how big, that's for the market to decide. Don't ask me who is going to play that role. It's not going to be OPEC only. This is an international effort. Everyone has a role to play."

But speaking in Qatar at the same time, Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, deputy minister of petroleum and mineral resources, cautioned against making too many cuts amid the swing in prices.

"As we saw back in 2008, high oil prices proved to be unsustainable, and the price fell sharply following the great financial crisis. But this works in the opposite direction," the prince said, according to a copy of his speech carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. "A prolonged period of low oil prices is also unsustainable, as it will induce large investment cuts and reduce the resilience of the oil industry, undermining the future security of supply and setting the scene for another sharp price rise."

None of that placates al-Rumhy of Oman, whose country is the biggest Mideast oil producer outside of OPEC with around 1 million barrels a day. Oman has been highly skeptical of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, which has kept its own production high, further depressing prices.

"It's like you and your wife at home, cooking for 10 people and you eat a little bit and the rest of it you throw it in the dustbin," al-Rumhy said. "I cannot justify that, that this loss is by the grace of God. This loss is because we are not responsible. ... We are waiting for the cyclone that is hitting us to change course. And it will not happen."

His comments drew sustained applause in Abu Dhabi, with his Emirati counterpart responding that the low prices are everyone's responsibility. Yet even afterward, surrounded by reporters, al-Rumhy kept up his criticism, while smiling and saying: "They're my friends."
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at

Friday, November 6, 2015

Obama quashes Keystone XL in bid to boost climate leverage

Obama's decision marked an unambiguous victory for environmental activists who spent years denouncing the pipeline, lobbying the administration and even chaining themselves to tractors to make their point about the threat posed by dirty fossil fuels. It also places the president and fellow Democrats in direct confrontation with Republicans and energy advocates heading into the 2016 presidential election.

The president, announcing his decision at the White House, said he agreed with a State Department conclusion that Keystone wouldn't advance U.S. national interests. He lamented that both political parties had "overinflated" Keystone into a proxy battle for climate change but glossed over his own role in allowing the controversy to drag out over several national elections.

"This pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others," he said.

Although Obama in 2013 said his litmus test for Keystone would be whether it increased U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, his final decision appeared based on other factors. He didn't broach that topic in his remarks, and State Department officials said they'd determined Keystone wouldn't significantly affect carbon pollution levels.

Instead, the administration cited the "broad perception" that Keystone would carry "dirty" oil, and suggested approval would raise questions abroad about whether the U.S. was serious about climate change.

"Frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership," the president said.

Obama will travel to Paris at the end of the month for talks on a global climate agreement, which the president hopes will be the crowning jewel for his environmental legacy. Killing the pipeline allows Obama to claim aggressive action, strengthening his hand as world leaders gather in France.

Though environmental groups hailed Friday as a "day of celebration," Obama's decision was unlikely to be the last word for Keystone XL. 

TransCanada, the company behind the proposal, said it remained "absolutely committed" to building the project and was considering filing a new application for permits. The company has previously raised the possibility of suing the U.S. to recoup the more than $2 billion it says it has already spent on development.

"Today, misplaced symbolism was chosen over merit and science. Rhetoric won out over reason," said TransCanada CEO Russ Girling. His criticism was echoed by Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said Obama had rejected tens of thousands of jobs while railroading Congress.

"This decision isn't surprising, but it is sickening," Ryan said.

On the other side, climate activists noted the widespread assumption early in Obama's presidency that he'd eventually approve Keystone, and said his apparent about-face proved how effective a no-holds-barred advocacy campaign could be.

"Now every fossil fuel project around the world is under siege," said Bill McKibben of the environmental group

Already, the issue has spilled over into the presidential race. The Republican field is unanimous in support of Keystone, while the Democratic candidates are all opposed — including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who oversaw the early part of the federal review as Obama's first-term secretary of state.

TransCanada first applied for Keystone permits 2,604 days ago in September 2008 — shortly before Obama was elected. As envisioned, Keystone would snake from Canada's tar sands through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, then connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to specialized refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.

But Democrats and environmental groups latched onto Keystone as just the type of project that must be phased out if the world is to seriously combat climate change. Meanwhile, Republicans, Canadian politicians and the energy industry argued the pipeline would create thousands of jobs and inject billions into the economy. They accused Obama of hypocrisy for complaining about a lack of U.S. infrastructure investment while obstructing an $8 billion project.

Amid vote after vote in Congress to try to force Obama's hand, the president seemed content to delay further and further. Most pipelines wait roughly a year and a half for permits to cross the U.S. border, but Keystone's review dragged on more than 5 times as long as average, according to a recent Associated Press analysis.

The first major delay came in 2011, when Obama postponed a decision until after his re-election, citing uncertainty about the proposed route through Nebraska. When Congress passed legislation requiring a decision within 60 days, he rejected the application but allowed TransCanada to re-apply. He delayed again in 2014 — this time indefinitely — in a move that delayed the decision until after the 2014 midterm elections.

Obama's decision on Friday risks creating a fresh point of tension in his relationship with Canada's new government. After speaking by phone with Obama on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "disappointed by the decision" but pledged to pursue a "fresh start" with Obama nevertheless.

For TransCanada, the financial imperative to build Keystone may have fallen off recently amid a sharp drop in oil prices that could make extracting and transporting the product much less lucrative. TransCanada has insisted that wasn't the case.
Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Matthew Daly, Kathleen Hennessey and Matthew Lee in Washington and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Markets - US in the driving seat for change

United States map download

With just two months to go until the start of a new year, for shipping this will bring a fresh wave of legislation some confirmed and some almost ratified. The beginning of next year also heralds the final demise of the few single-hull tanker left from being able to trade in conventional trades, EA Gibson said in a recent report. 
Perhaps of more significance is the possibility that we will finally see some movement on the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM), which will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 flag states, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.

According to the latest IMO figures, 44 states have ratified the convention, representing 32.86% of the merchant fleet. As a result, it would only take one moderate size flag state to sign up, which would compel owners of every ship type and size to consider their options - scrap or commit to the additional expenditure, which in some cases could be costly.

One owner estimated that the cost for a VLCC would be around $2.5 mill, which could be in addition to other possible renewals discovered during drydocking.

Once the convention is ratified, all vessels would be required to install an appropriate BWM system at their first scheduled drydocking survey, following the 12 month grace period.

Some owners have advanced their drydocking schedules in order to get around this piece of pending legislation, which could provide older vessels with an extended grace period, Gibson said.

However, the US has a slightly different approach to BWM from the rest of the world. Vessels trading to the US are already required to have BWM systems in place ahead of the global IMO ratification.

Further emission regulations are also taking effect in the US from January. The control of NOx emissions will be further reduced from marine engines, which will be applicable to ships built on or after 1st January, 2016 operating in the North American ECA and the US Caribbean Sea ECA.

Tier III is a further tightening of US NOx regulations previously implemented in 2000 (Tier I) and 2011 (Tier II), which already apply to existing ships operating in the North American ECA. The new emission permissible limits are considerably lower than the previously tier limits. Again this regulation appears to have stimulated more ordering activity to avoid the additional costs in complying with the new regulations, Gibson said.

Another US initiative is to look at LNG as an alternative bunker fuel resulting in the Government subsidising several projects to build Jones Act tonnage with dual fuel Capability. The first vessel, a containership, was completed last month by NASSCO.

Also in October, NASSCO christened the first of five ECO tankers for American Petroleum Tankers. Scheduled for delivery in December, the ‘Lone Star State’ a 50,000

DWT, LNG-conversion ready MR, offers improved fuel efficiency and the latest environmental protection features, including a ballast water treatment system.

Thus, the US is very much leading the way on environmental issues, which are heavily supported by its shale oil/gas revolution.

However, the recent lower fuel oil prices seen, have eroded much of the cost differential over the Henry Hub gas price. This appears to have applied the brakes on further dual fuel ordering activity other than for LNGCs, Gibson concluded.

Markets-Rates on the rise again

MOL to Install Ballast Water Treatment System on VLCC

Rates for MEG VLCCs rose to around $70,000 per day earlier this week from a low of $40,000 per day seen only two weeks ago. Sentiments have changed rapidly, in both directions, making it tough to pick the right timing for both owners and charterers, Fearnleys said, which clearly indicates that it is a finely balanced market today. 
MEG volumes have picked up, but nowhere near what we saw last month and it is thought that a larger portion of the normal volumes were taken on own tonnage.
Volumes West Africa/East continued to be stable and correlated closely in earnings terms
with Meg/East. Caribbean/East also continues stable with steady activity and firm rates.
Owners’ expectations for the ‘winter market’ is hence far from diminished, the broker said.
A week of decent activity for Suezmaxes as the rates rose to WS120 levels after being stable at WS80-85 for WAfr-UK/Cont/Med voyages. However, rates seemed to have reached the top and have settled at slightly lower levels .
The recent activity in Black Sea/Med has also firmed rates, due to large cargo numbers along and delays in Turkish straits.
North Sea and Baltic Aframaxes remained active last week, but due to a balanced tonnage scenario, no changes in rates were evident. Going forward we expect an increase in rates, mainly due to continued activity, more weather delays and ships moving away from the area.
In the Med and Black Sea, the Aframax market was stable at around WS107.5 for the past week. Delays in the Turkish straits and some Italian ports helped to maintain rates at these levels.
As Caribs and W Africa were looking firm and activity is expected to increase towards end of this month month in Black Sea/Med, this market has some upward potential, Fearnleys concluded.
Among the fixtures reported recently by broking sources, Vitol was reported to have fixed the 2009-built VLCC ‘New Talent’ for two years at $42,250 per day, while Clearlake was said to have taken the 2007-built VLCC ‘Spyros K’ for two years at $47,500 per day and Koch was believed to have fixed the 2001-built VLCC ‘Formosapetrol Challenger’ for 12 months at $40,000 per day.
IOC was reported to have fixed the 2000-built Suezmax ‘Jag Lateef’ for two years at $29,500 per day.
Singapore-based Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Tanker reportedly fixed the 2009-built Aframax ‘Sea Bay’ for 12 months at $22,500 per day.
LR1s seem to be in vogue as BP was said to have fixed the 2008-built ‘Energy Centurion’, plus the 2009-built ‘Gulf Castle’ for two years each at $22,500 per day and $23,000 per day, respectively.
In the S&P sector, brokers said that the Ahrenkiel-managed Handysize tankers - ‘Conti Benguela’, ‘Conti Greenland’, ‘Conti Agulhas’, ‘Conti Humboldt’ and ‘Conti Guinea’ had been committed to Clearwater Marine.
However, some doubt has been expressed whether this deal was signed. It also appears that the Hafnia/Geden deal did not get off the ground.
One deal that was confirmed was Mumbai-based Elektrans Shipping’s (formerly Doehle Danautic) acquisition of the Suezmax ‘Distya Akula’, which will be co-owned with Arya Industries.
The 1995-built tanker will be flagged in India and bring’s the company’s fleet up to three vessels. Elktrans and Arya have invested $40 mill for vessel acquisitions.

Daniel Chopra, Elektrans managing director, said, “Acquisition of ‘Distya Akula’ further consolidates Elektrans’ position as a full-service maritime company. We have embarked on an aggressive acquisition plan to increase the ownership fleet size.

“Besides owning oil and gas tankers, we are watching the drybulk segment, which holds promise. Such an expansion plan, especially in today’s tough market scenario, demands, in addition to the technical, commercial and human expertise, steadfast leadership and focus,” he said.

Elektrans also offers crew management, technical management, ship recycling, chartering and shipbroking services.

Elsewhere, Greece’s New Shipping was thought to have purchased the 1999-built VLCC ‘GC Guanzhou’ for $30-31 mill.

Leaving the fleet was the 1992-built Aframax ‘Jelita Bangsa’ reportedly sold to undisclosed breakers for $320 per ldt on the basis of ‘as is’ Indonesia and the 1985-built Handysize ‘Moskovskiy C’ also reported as sold to undisclosed recyclers for $205 per ldt on the basis of ‘as is’ Cuba.
As for newbuildings, Orient Shipping & Investment was said to have ordered two VLCCs at Hyundai Samho at $94.5 mill each for 2017 delivery.
Consolidated Marine Management was said to have ordered two, option two MRs at Hyundai Mipo at $35.5 mill each, while Stena Bulk was thought to have contracted up to five high-spec MRs at $40 mill each from CSSC Offshore & Marine Engineering.

VLGCs were also in the news with Tokyo-based Astomos Energy Corp ordering three 82,200 cu m LPG carriers at two Japanese shipyards on the back of long tertm charters, bringing its order book up to 10 newbuildings.

The company has ordered two VLGCs at Kawasaki Heavy Industries that are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2019 and placed the third at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipbuilding of 83,000 cu m capacity.

NYK and its partners have signed a five-year charter agreement with Astomos for the three vessels.
In addition, Shanghai Zhenrong has ordered two VLGCs from Jiangsu New Yangzijiang at $76 mill each for 2018 deliveries, while KSS has declared an option for another VLGC from Hyundai at $77 mill.

Gener8 Maritime has confirmed that it took delivery of the ECO VLCCs - ‘Gener8 Athena’ and ‘Gener8 Strength’ - from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, respectively.

They represent the second and third of 21 ECO VLCCs due to be delivered to Gener8 Maritime's. Upon their delivery, they entered into Navig8's VL8 Pool.   

Meanwhile, Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corp has christened the ‘Ohio’, the first of four new LNG-ready Jones Act product tankers being built at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard.

The 50,000 dwt, 330,000-barrel-capacity ship is the first tanker ever to receive ABS LNG-Ready Level 1 approval, giving Crowley the option to convert the tanker to LNG propulsion in the future.

Another three product tankers are also being built by APSI for Crowley and scheduled for delivery through 2016.