ASIA TANKER: VLCCs Slow On IEA, Fundamentals; Clean Tankers Supported

Lou Vest, tanker, oneeighteen
Image by Lou Vest

SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)–The Asia crude tanker market is slowing, with increased vessel availability from mid-July, but healthy gasoline and gasoil demand from South Asia may support vessels carrying clean petroleum products.

The freight rate for a 260,000-metric-ton Very Large Crude Carrier from the Middle East to Japan was assessed Monday at a three-week low of Worldscale 52.82, or $9,023 a day, down 6.35 points from a week earlier, according to Baltic Exchange data.

The market has turned bearish, ending a stretch of gains that had lasted nearly a month, with the supply of vessels appearing to outstrip demand.

The International Energy Agency’s reserve release program is also weighing on the market, as members South Korea and Japan will make at least 5.956 million barrels of crude available to domestic refiners, which may reduce their need for chartering.

“The fixing dates seemed to have moved to mid-month onwards, and there are still plenty ships, so we could see weaker rates,” broker Simpson Spencer & Young said in a research note.

Data from Meiwa International showed that 47 cargoes have been fixed to be lifted in July so far, and it remains to be seen whether the number of fixtures can reach the peak level of 122 lots this month.

The rate for a VLCC from West Africa to China fell from W52.77 to W49.10, as the 80,000-ton Aframax rate from Southeast Asia to the east coast of Australia inched up to W96.94 from W96.39.

Freight rates for clean products such as naphtha, gasoil and gasoline are on the rise, as bookings of cargoes for loading next month start in earnest. The rate for a 75,000-ton LR-2 cargo from the Middle East to Japan jumped to W118.75 from W106.04, while a 55,000-ton LR-1 cargo for the same route rose from W123.69 to W126.42.

The rate for a 30,000-ton tanker from Singapore to Japan dropped from W151.21 to W146.64, though healthy demand for products from India and Pakistan may provide support later.

-By Max Lin, Dow Jones Newswires