ASIA TANKER: VLCC Rates May Firm; Summer Demand Supports Clean Product Shipping

British Progress BP VLCC Very Large Crude Carrier

Image (c) BP p.l.c.

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)–Asia’s crude tanker market may begin to recover due to declining availability of vessels in early August, while increased gasoline demand during summer is also supporting ships carrying clean petroleum products.

The rate for a 260,000-metric-ton Very Large Crude Carrier from the Middle East to Japan was last assessed Monday at Worldscale 49.85, or $3,441 a day, recovering from a two-month low of W49.03 reached last week, according to Baltic Exchange data.

Data from Meiwa International showed 124 cargoes were fixed to be lifted from the Middle East, versus 108 shipments a year ago. Though the gains mostly came from West-bound fixtures, the general supply situation has tightened nonetheless, brokers said.

“I think the rate could start an uptrend…it will be difficult to fix cargoes below W50,” said a Japanese broker.

However, with low Chinese imports, the rate for a VLCC from West Africa to China was little changed on week at W47.67 Monday, around its year-to-date low.

The 80,000-ton Aframax rate from Southeast Asia to the east coast of Australia slipped to W97.33 from W97.39.

Freight rates for clean products such as naphtha, gasoil and gasoline have been well supported, as gasoline demand picked up in South Asia and West-bound fixtures of middle distillates from the Middle East increased, brokers said.

The rate for a 75,000-ton LR-2 cargo from the Middle East to Japan rose to W119.88 from W118.67, as a 55,000-ton LR-1 cargo for the same route improved to a high for the month of W124.81 compared with W121.31 a week earlier.

However, the rate for a 30,000-ton tanker from Singapore to Japan eased to W146.86 from W147.36.

-By Max Lin, Dow Jones Newswires