SSY Base Oil Shipping Report

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It has been a much quieter week throughout Europe. The recovery in the U.S. market appears to have stalled, with a large number of sophisticated vessels laying idle. The situation in Asia is stable, but is far from perfect.

U.S. Gulf

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A rash of paraxylene fixtures to Asia have been recorded for August loading. Most were 10,000-ton cargoes, which were fixed in the $48-$49 per metric ton region. The total volume looks to be in the region of 50,000 tons, with some further requirements noted. Styrene could be a possibility, but traders will probably be diverting most stems to Europe. A shipment of 1,000 tons isobutanol was quoted from Texas City to Yangtze River, China, and 20,000 tons methanol could still be a possibility off mid-August dates, although various discharge options are under consideration. Ethanol too is a possibility, including product from Peru.

Styrene was already on the menu to Europe, but a reported plant stoppage in Europe could stimulate demand even further. Several traders have been looking at paraxylene to Sines, and there has been some ethylbenzene rumoured fixed to Gonfreville for the second half of August. The usual vinyl acetate monomer was booked to Antwerp, and 4,500 tons of tall oil was noted going from Mobile to Bordeaux. A shipment of 2,500 tons of green diesel was quoted from New Orleans to Rotterdam, and some biodiesel was attempted from the United States to the west coast of Rotterdam.

Chemicals and base oil activity remains thin on U.S. Gulf-to-Caribbean routes, and there is plenty of prompt open space available. Twenty thousand tons of caustic was done Point Comfort to Rocky Point, and 24,000 tons of urea ammonia nitrate was booked from Point Lisas to Stockton. Five thousand tons of ethanol was quoted from Pto. Quetzal to Long Beach, and 1,000 tons chemicals were looking to ship from the U.S. Gulf to Venezuela. Otherwise, the spot market essentially consists of vegetable oil.

A couple more ethanol shipments were recorded for August delivery in Brazil, with another 20,000 cubic meters quoted from the U.S. Gulf to northern Brazil for mid-August loading. Ten thousand tons of urea ammonia nitrate concluded from Point Lisas to Argentina. Five thousand tons of ethylene dichloride continues to be quoted from the U.S. Gulf to Aratu, and 10,000 tons of paraxylene were quoted from Corpus Christi to Suape for the second half of August. A shipment of 3,770 tons of base oils was booked from the U.S. Gulf to Brazil, seemingly in the mid $60s/t, and a couple of other base oil inquiries to Brazil are understood to have been covered. Two thousand tons of caustic potash were noted from Houston to Brazil, and 5,000 to 8,000 tons of canola from Vancouver to Chile made an appearance.

A shipment of 20,000 tons of methanol was fixed from the U.S. Gulf to the west coast of India, while a further 20,000 tons of methanol was quoted for August loading to either India or the Far East.

Europe

The week produced little in the North Sea and Baltic region in the way of new cargoes, and a large percentage of the fleet shows the same open position as a week ago. A certain amount of shuffling around of cargoes is taking place due to the low water levels in the rivers and canal systems, necessitating some changes to the seaborne side of the shipments. Renewables have been more subdued than normal, in spite of a better showing from ethanol. Some cargoes, such as 6,000 tons of pyrolysis gasoline from Kotka to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam saw charterers widening the loading dates to attract more competitive offers, in this case from Aug. 1-2 to Aug. 2-10, but generally most requirements have been easily fixed.

There are just too many ships competing for cargoes southbound into the Mediterranean, with a lot of ships clustered around Aug. 5-15 dates. Nine thousand tons of paraxylene and paraffins from Kotka to Algeciras and Augusta, Sicily, are understood to have achieved just $47/t for example. Shipments of base oil, avgas, alkylate and fatty acid methyl ester have been noted.

Demand has been steady northbound, yielding unchanged freight levels. Cargoes of benzene, caustic, orthoxylene, glycerine, alkylate, pyrolysis gasoline and bio-naphtha have been seen. Five thousand tons of benzene from Haifa to Aveiro went in the mid- to high-$40s/t, for example.

The inter-Mediterranean market has been disappointingly quiet this week. Only a dozen or so biodiesel fixtures were heard, with a similar number of inquiries, which is quite low for this sector. A few methanol opportunities appeared, including cargoes from Arzew and Kulevi, Georgia, and base oils have been pretty active, with shipments into Greece, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel recorded. Benzene has also been a bit better, with fixtures out of Lavera, Sarroch, Italy, Aliaga, Turkey and Haifa. Caustic produced a selection of inquiries from Yuzhny, Port Said and Lavera.

The market along the transatlantic route remains soft, with very few new cargo requirements. Traders have been asking questions about benzene freights, but these have yet to go firm. A small parcel of base oils was quoted from Antwerp to Houston, but this seems to have dropped back onto contractual tonnage. A combination of base oils and wax looks to have been fixed from Augusta, and an August shipment of APP was covered from the Baltic. A shipment of 17,500 tons of APP was spotted from Sillamae to the U.S. for September, and a further requirement for calcium nitrates and AdBlue was noted to Canada. A shipment of 4,300 tons of intermediates from Rotterdam and Fawley, U.K., to Bayonne and Savannah are believed to have gone for $280,000. Some alpha methyl styrene, hexane and isopropanol has been seen to Mexico for a couple of charterers, and 15,000 tons of sulphuric acid was heard quoted from Stettin to Mexico.

Styrene has created the main impetus on the Europe-to-Far East route this week. Five thousand tons of styrene was booked from Gonfreville, France, with a further five to six inquiries seen for August. Paraxylene has also been tentatively aired. Some RPO-type material was seen from Hamburg to China, along with some oxo-alcohols and MIBK. A shipment of 5,000-6,000 tons of groundnut oil has been attempted from Dakar to Tianjin.

The route from Europe to India and the Middle East Gulf continues to have excess tonnage, with minimal amounts of cargo quoted.

Asia

As with the previous week, most routes within Asia generated a steady flow of cargo, which has enabled most prompt vessels to get fixed away. The exception is still the intra-Southeast Asia region, where a lack of spot business is quite apparent. Intra-Northeast Asia still sees healthy demand for paraxylene, benzene and toluene into China, and this week also saw Taiwan come into the picture, with further inquiries of toluene and mixed xylenes. In addition, there has been some glycol, acetone and phenol quoted into China. Prompt space has been very difficult to find, with several transhipment cargoes scouring the market for prompt space all week which will have been reflected in higher freights. Bad weather in the region has been a contributing factor, with many ports closed down for several days at a time.

It seems there are some outstanding cargoes of benzene on the transpacific route for export in August, whilst space seems to get taken quite quickly. Some small lots of vinyl acetate monomer and HAS were apparently booked to the U.S. Gulf, and 2,000 tons of methylmethacrylate was seen from Singapore to Houston for prompt. Sulphuric acid is being quoted to Chile for October loading. Twenty thousand tons of caustic seemingly fixed from China to Jamaica in the low- to mid $40s/t, a lower level than even some of the handy-size clean petroleum cargoes that are moving from Korea. Prompt space to Europe is hard to find, but the second half of August sees a couple of additional carriers coming on berth with space. Six thousand tons of cyclohexane from Southeast Asia to Antwerp claims to have fixed in the $60s/t. Three thousand tons of bright stock was attempted from Rayong to East Mediterranean or Jeddah, while various quotations of used cooking oil were recorded from China and Southeast Asia.

There are a multitude of cargo quotations in the regional markets in the India/Middle East Gulf region, which is why it is hard to comprehend why there are a couple of idle vessels around. Approvals, last-cargo histories, timing as well as owners and charterers preferences all play a part. Eastbound is not massively busy from the Middle East Gulf, although there is not a lot of space either. A series of aromatics parcels have been seen from assorted Indian ports to Southeast Asia and Far East. A shipment of 17,000 tons of ethanol was fixed from Karachi, Pakistan, to Far East in the high $40s/t, with a further 17,000 tons quoted for late August. Westbound saw 16,000 tons of caustic fixed from the Middle East Gulf to East Mediterranean for around $50/t with a similar cargo for September already being quoted.

Adrian Brown is a senior market analyst for chemicals and base oils with SSY Shipbrokers, London, can be reached atfix@ssychems.comor +44 12 0750 7507. Information about SSY can be found atwww.ssyonline.com. In the Houston office,Steve Rosenthalof SSY’s Chemical Tanker Department can be reached directly at +1 (713) 652-2700 and Jordi Maymi in Singapore can be reached at +65 6854-7127.

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