After a week with very slow activity for VLCC’s, particularly in the MEG and W Africa, activity resumed.
In the meantime, rates softened sharply and charterers tried hard to shave even more off. However, the final January stems in the MEG and early February cargoes ex W Africa gave the market some impetus, which halted the slide, Fearnleys reported
This may, however, be temporary as tonnage remained in abundance and volumes were expected to diminish, therefore pressure was expected to remain on earnings.
Last week, the Suezmax market saw an injection of activity after a quieter holiday season. In W Africa, the second decade saw sustained cargo volumes with rates peaking at around WS90 offering reasonable returns of about $35,000 per day.
This was combined with decent enquiry in both the Med and the N Sea that resulted in a clear out of the backlog of tonnage that had been building up.
Owners overall sentiment had seemingly not been dampened by the previous inactivity. The cargo volume has now slowed and even though owners were still showing signs of bullishness, the forward position lists are growing. A steady week lies ahead although W Africa business could be described as date sensitive, Fearnleys said.
Aframax Baltic and N Sea rates declined last week. However, they could easily bounce back this week as more cold weather is expected and there was some talk of Ice Class 1C not being sufficient to load in strategic Baltic ports. More rough weather is also expected, adding some uncertainty to the rate levels.
Spot N Sea ships were also considering ballasting to a firmer Med market offering a valid alternative to a somewhat slow cross N Sea market today. This week has been exceptionally busy in the Med and B Sea. Terrible weather in the area has caused significant delays in both Turkish straits and key ports, and this combined with a heavy third decade CPC programme has caused rates to jump WS70 points in just a couple of days.
There are some cargoes still left to fix, but as we have started seeing ballasters coming in from other areas, we expect this market to cool off going into next week, Fearnleys concluded.
In other chartering news, brokers reported that the 2014-built VLCC ‘Xin Lian Yang’had been fixed to Socar for 12 months at $30,000 per day.
Trafigura was also reported to have taken the 2011-built Aframax ‘Stealth Skyros’ for six to nine months at $17,500 per day.
The 2005-built LR1 ‘Hamburg Star’ was said to have been fixed to Deutsche Shell for three to six months at $13,750 per day.
In the MR segment, the 2016-built ‘Miss Benedetta’ was thought fixed to Stena Weco for six months at $12,750 and MT Maritime was said to have taken the 2017-built ‘Pyxis Lamda’ for 12 months at $13,000 per day.
Among the recent newbuilding deliveries was the LR2 ‘Navig8 Gauntlet’ delivered by Guangzhou Shipyard International Co (GSI) to Navig8 Product Tankers.
She is the sixth of eight vessels contracted at GSI by Navig8 and is also the sixth vessel to be delivered under the sale and leaseback agreements agreed with CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Co (CSSC).
‘Navig8 Gauntlet’ will be operated by Navig8 Group's Alpha8 commercial pool.
Navig8 Chemical Tankers has taken delivery of the ‘Navig8 Saiph’, a 25,000 dwt stainless steel chemical tanker, from Kitanihon Shipbuilding.
She is the fifth of six vessels contracted at Kitanihon to be delivered to the company and is the first of two vessels to be part financed under the secured loan facility with UniCredit Bank.
‘Navig8 Saiph’ will be operated in Navig8 Group's Stainless8 commercial pool.
Stena Bulk took delivery of the ninth out of 13 IMOIIMAX MRs. She was named ‘Stena Immaculate’ at GSI on 10th January from where the vessel will be delivered within the next few days.
On her maiden voyage, with a cargo including vegetable oils, she will sail from Papua New Guinea to Europe.
Capital Ship Management Corp has taken delivery of the newbuilding 'Aristaios' from Daehan Shipbuilding (DHSC). She is a 112,800 dwt, Ice Class 1C LR2 and is one of two new sister ships with an eco-friendly design to be delivered in January, 2017.
In the newbuilding sector,John Fredriksen’s Ship Finance International has extended a series of Tier II LR2s ordered at Daehan Shipbuilding by ordering another two, plus two options for a price believed to be in the region of $44.5 mill each.
The two firm vessels are due for delivery in the first quarter of 2018 and will be the third and fourth vessels in the series.
Navig8 was also said to have ordered four, plus two options for two each, Aframaxes at New Times for 2018 delivery for a price said to be $42 mill each.
Elsewhere, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard has won an order for an MR from GSCaltex subsidiary Sangji Shipping, due for delivery in December, 2018.
Broking sources reported that HMD had also won orders from Pleiades for two, option two MRs for $33.5 mill each and due for delivery in 2018, while Asahi Tankers was said to have contracted an MR at Minaminippon for 2019 delivery.
Turning to the S&P market, Andromeda was reported to have purchased the 1999-built Suezmax ‘Sifnos’ for $12.3 mill.
Reported leaving the fleet were the 1993-built VLCC ‘Varada Blessing’ thought sold for $299 per ldt on the basis of ‘as is’ Hong Kong and the 1985-built chemical tanker ‘Pacific Stream’ sold to green Indian recyclers for $520 per ldt. She is believed fitted with around 1,000 tonnes of stainless steel, hence the high price paid.