SSY Base Oil Shipping Report

Demand to supply of tonnage is well balanced in the U.S. Gulf, keeping rates mostly stable. European markets are not under a great deal of stress either. However, Asia has been quieter recently.

Americas

Caustic and ethanol are among the hot products in the Caribbean, with several caustic shipments currently being worked for both October and November. Six thousand tons of ethanol was booked from Texas City, Texas, to Cartagena, Colombia, following on from an identical movement that took place at the end of September. Several vegetable oil possibilities have been quoted, including 12,000-15,000 tons of vegetable oil from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Barranquilla, Colombia, and Buenaventura, Colombia, for early-mid December, and pretty much the same requirement has been quoted out of Norfolk, Virginia, too.

Eighteen thousand tons of urea ammonia nitrate from Donaldsonville, Louisiana, and Hamilton, Canada, was booked off Oct. 7-15 dates. The rates have been reported at widely varying levels, with some suggesting numbers in the low- to mid-$40s/t, while others contend the rate was in the mid-$30s/t. Space into the Lakes does however seem to be in tight supply, with an owner ballasting a ship from Europe to New York to load clean petroleum for Sarnia, Canada, and achieving a level that is $100,000 more than it would usually be.

Cargo volumes are stable to South America. Eight thousand eight hundred tons of 10gr base oils were booked from Baytown, Texas, to 2-Brazil. The requirement to ship 10,000 tons of ammonium thiosulphate from Pasadena, Texas, to Zarate, Argentina, San Nicolas and San Martin for Oct. 7-12 was heard to have been covered. Twenty thousand to 24,000 tons of caustic and ethylene dichloride from Point Comfort, Texas, to Aratu, Brazil, and Maceio, Brazil, looks to have been fixed as well, but there is an outstanding requirement to ship caustic to Munguba, Brazil, at the end of the month. A large shipment of styrene was booked Houston to Manaus, Brazil, and some ethanol is known to be making its way to Brazil from Beaumont, Texas.

Chlor-alkali demand seems to be strong along the transatlantic route. A prompt requirement for 20,000-24,000 tons of caustic from Point Comfort to Durban, South Africa, was covered while 19,000 tons of caustic, ethylene dichloride and caustic potash has been quoted from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Taft, Louisiana, to Tarragona, Spain, and Greece for Nov. 15-25. Five thousand tons of glycols were fixed from the U.S. Gulf to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam for the second half of October, with further glycols being quoted into the Mediterranean. Traders were checking levels for 1,000-2,000 tons of chemicals from the U.S. Gulf to Marmara, Turkey, and received rates of $85/t for 2,000 tons and $105/t for 1,000 tons.

There has been an improvement in demand on the route into Asia. Vegetable oil is especially active, with 14,000 tons of it fixed from New Orleans to South Korea at $58.50/t for very early October loading, while a further 10,000 tons of vegetable oil was booked New Orleans to South Korea for the second half of October at $60/t. An additional 19,500 tons of vegetable oil has been quoted from New Orleans to Pyongtaek, South Korea, off the second half of November dates. Ethanol, 11,850-15,800 tons of it, was heard to have fixed from Houston to Ulsan, South Korea, and the Philippines in the high-$60s/t. Traders have been looking to cover 10,000 tons of ethylene dichloride from the Texas Gulf to Taiwan for the second half of October loading.

An outsider is on berth with some styrene to India from the U.S. Gulf. A cargo of 10,000 tons of base oil is being tendered for sale out of the U.S. Gulf, and several traders are quoting it to various Indian ports for November loading.

Europe

As to be expected, the volume of trade around the Baltic and Black Sea fell away during the EPCA event in Berlin, but the previous week had seen a surge in demand that had cleared out many of the prompt positions, so that when business resumed afterwards, owners were quickly able to pick up from where they had left off. This has resulted in only a moderate amount of prompt open space remaining. Some of these vessels are also in known blackspots, such as the west coast of the United Kingdom, the west coast of Norway and certain areas in the Baltic which tend to be problematic in finding backhaul cargoes at the best of times.

Cargo demand southbound has been pretty constant over the last couple of weeks. Caustic continues to pour into Spain, with a bit of ethylene dichloride too, these cargoes being in addition to contractual volumes. Caustic has also been seen looking to ship to Italy, Greece and Turkey. Five thousand tons of styrene was heard to have been booked into Yumurtalik, Turkey, by traders. Biodiesel is another commodity that has seen a great deal of activity, including a rare shipment to Zadar, Croatia. Four thousand tons of acetic acid from Saltend, U.K., to Marmara was heard fixed in the high-$50s/t. Five thousand tons of urea ammonia nitrate looks to have fixed from Brunsbuttel, Germany, to Ravenna, Italy.

There have been times when securing prompt space out of the West Mediterranean has been difficult, and several cargoes have loaded four to five days after the preferred laycan. Finally, some of the orthoxylene and toluene combinations from Algeciras, Spain, have been booked to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam. Aromatics have been one of the busier products, with pyrolysis gasoline being shipped from Berre, France; Venicel; and Aliaga, Turkey, while mixed xylenes and heavy aromatics have been noted from Leixoes, Portugal. Three thousand tons of benzene went from Lavera, France, to Aveiro, Portugal.

The West Mediterranean area has been driven heavily by biodiesel demand, although during the EPCA period there were not as many cargoes to be seen. There have however been some of these products shipped out of the Adriatic and Black Sea which have assisted vessels repositioning from those areas. The first hydrotreated vegetable oil shipment was also performed from the new plant in Gaeta, Italy. Caustic has had another busy spell, with movements noted from Tarragona; Lavera; Fos, France; Livorno, Italy; Port Said, Egypt; Odessa, Ukraine; and Constanza, Romania.

It was a muted week on the transatlantic route, with only a few fresh requirements heard, although a few of the older benzene and pyrolysis gasoline shipments were booked. A cargo of toluene was noted from Priolo, Italy, and 10,000 tons of paraxylene was mentioned from Antwerp, Belgium, to the U.S. Atlantic Coast. More Baltic methanol was booked across, with some large lots noted to New Orleans, though with freight ideas just under $20/t. Five thousand to 6,000 tons caustic was looking for space from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to the U.S. Atlantic Coast for the end of October. Three thousand tons of paraffin wax from Augusta, Sicily, to Houston appears to have collected $700,000.

Several of the styrene possibilities from Antwerp and Gonfreville, France, appear to have materialized to the Far East. Some of the acetone and butanol cargoes were booked too, and there has been more interest in methanol, both from Arzew, Algeria, and from Marsa, Malta. A parcel of rubber process oil was quoted from Hamburg, Germany, while a large lot of base oils was booked out of the Black Sea, and another was worked out of the Baltic.

The route to India and the Middle East Gulf has experienced a steady flow of material, Traders continue to talk of caustic possibilities into the Red Sea. More hexane has been seen from the Black Sea, and 7,350 tons of chemicals from Port Jerome, France, to 3-Middle East Gulf were rumoured to have gone in the low $600,000 region.

Asia

Even before Typhoon Hagibis arrived, there was quite some October demand in Northeast Asia, with cargoes such as paraxylene from Yosu, South Korea, to Yizheng, China, base oils from South Korea to Tianjin, China; Taichung, Taiwan; and Qingdao, China, gasoline from Yosu to Nagoya, Japan, methyl tertiarybutyl ether from Daesan, Korea, to Nantong, China, benzene from Onsan, South Korea, to Mailiao, Taiwan, and acetone to Caojing, China, and Laizhou, China. Now there are yet more prompt requirements to cover thanks to delayed vessels after the typhoon, which is keeping space tight and rates firm.

Space is tight southbound too for the same reasons. One thousand tons of base oil from Taiwan to Merak, Indonesia, was reportedly booked in the $40s/t, while 80,000 barrels of jet fuel from Huizhou, China, to Hong Kong secured around $150,000.

There have not been that many larger lots quoted northbound recently. Three thousand tons of naphtha from Kemaman, Malaysia, to Zhuhai, China, finally got covered in the high-$30s to low-$40s/t for Oct. 10-15 after being quoted initially for Sept. 22-26 loading. Plenty of fatty alcohols movements have been noted, as well as benzene from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, to China, mixed aromatics from Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, to China and tertiary butyl alcohol from Pasir Guidang to Changshu, China.

There is still quite a bit of open space around in Southeast Asia, and the 7,000 tons of base oil requirement Singapore to the east coast of India that was quoted attracted plenty of offers. Thirteen thousand to 17,000 tons of clean petroleum was seen from Singapore to Kota Baru, Indonesia, and 4,000 to 5,000 tons of aromatics were mentioned from Pasir Gudang to Singapore. Five thousand tons of 2-ethylhexanol from Gresik, Indonesia, to south China is looking for November space.

It remains slow on the transpacific route. The last benzene fixture is loading now in Ulsan and was reported to have paid low-$40s/t for 12,000 tons. The next shipment of 15,000-18,000 tons is being lined up for end of October shipment. Sulphuric acid is beginning to be seen more regularly to Chile, with increased rates being reported. Biofuels dominate the route to Europe and ensure there is very little October space remaining. Ten thousand tons of biodiesel from Lahad Datu, Malaysia, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam went in the mid-$70s/t, which is up on usual levels. Most of the smaller outsiders have been sucked into the biofuels trade too.

Space is tight on the regional trades. Local demand is strong, but high freights on Iranian business, such as mid-$40s/t for 10,000-ton parcels to the west coast of India mean fewer vessels for the usual cargoes. Eastbound is busy, with multiple requirements for methanol, methyl tertiarybutyl ether, caustic, glycols, benzene, pyrolysis gasoline, paraxylene, orthoxylene and styrene. Westbound is also pretty active and there are only a few ships with part-space. Eleven thousand tons of caustic was seen from Mesaieed, Qatar, to Pto.Ordaz, Venezuela. Another large caustic has been booked from Mesaieed to the Mediterranean with more caustic and styrene quoted from Iran. Two thousand five hundred tons of base oils continue to be quoted from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, to Alexandria, Egypt. Ten thousand tons of paraxylene was noted from Mangalore, India, or Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, to Iskenderun, Turkey, with more benzene and cyclohexane quoted from India, and 7,400 tons of chemicals were quoted Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to the U.S.

Adrian Brown, 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.