Tankers: Freight rates in Americas surge as cargoes met by thin tonnage


When charterers in the Americas brought several cargoes onto the market at once Wednesday, they were met by an extremely short position list and freight rates jumped to a four-month high as a result.

For shipowners, the day started off with a bang, with Noble taking the Happy Lady at a lump sum of $605,000 for a US Gulf Coast-Caribbean voyage basis 38,000 mt, which easily surpassed a Phillips 66 fixture done Tuesday at $525,000.

The USGC-Caribbean route was assessed at the $605,000 level, or $15.92/mt. That figure showed a rise of $80,000 from previous. The last time that route finished higher was April 13, when it came in at $625,000, $16.45/mt.

Along with Noble, also in the mix were cargoes from Valero, Shell and Eni. This followed an already busy week where 20 ships have been put on subjects in just three days.

That heightened activity cut into the position list, which was made even shorter when a tropical storm caused weather delays in Mexico and maintenance on the Panama Canal held up some ships there. As positions dwindled, charterers began reaching further out to secure ships, in some cases as much as seven days, which also helped deplete tonnage.

The end result was that the Medium Range tanker position list shows no ships opening in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico before August 20 and only 16 through August 25.

"[The products have] been there the whole time, so it was more a matter of the tonnage situation," a shipbroker said. "There is less less tonnage in the region combined with Panama and Mexico delays, forcing people to fix more forward and thereby bringing more activity into the market."

A shipbroker said the firming market will likely be short-lived.

"It's going to fall like a rock," he said. "Once ship resupply, we will see rates cut in half."

Source: Platts 

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