March VLCC loadings set to continue despite doubts about Far Eastern demand


The steady stream of March VLCC loadings of Forties crude at the Hound Point terminal looks set to continue in earnest, despite persistent doubt about demand from Far Eastern refiners.

According to trading sources, the DHT Lion will commence a co-load for Glencore next Tuesday.

A source at Glencore declined to comment.

Glencore holds the Forties cargoes loading March 19-21, March 20-22 and March 21-23, according to Platts BFOE cargo tracking.

The DHT Lion loading will be the fourth of five expected VLCC loadings at Hound Point this month, with the DHT Europe expected to load for Shell around March 25.

The Gener8 Hercules is currently loading for Shell while the Baltic Glory and Desimi loaded earlier in the month for Glencore and Vitol, respectively.

Ordinarily, VLCC loadings are seen as a positive bellwether for the North Sea physical market as they normally head to the Far East and imply good demand for Forties barrels from that region.

In recent weeks that has not been the case, with the Baltic Glory, Desimi and Trikwong Venture all performing floating storage operations in the North Sea.

Indeed, Vitol has consistently offered ship-to-ship transfer cargoes of Forties from the Desimi and Trikwong Venture in the past week.

BP has also offered an STS Forties cargo from the Aframax British Kestrel, while Total last week offered a cargo of Brent Blend from the NS Consul.

Whether the remaining March VLCCs will head east is more likely to be determined by the respective paper positions of ships’ charterers, rather than the actual demand for Forties in the Far East, traders have said.

“I am pretty sure the rest of the March VLCCs will head east even though there is not much Asian demand. They have to move because of paper leverage,” said a trader.

Source: Platts 

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