SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


U.S. markets have sped up a little. European coastal markets are reasonably active, whereas deep-sea routes are slow. In contrast, Asian coastal markets are sluggish, but busy on long-haul.

U.S. Gulf

Bits and pieces of space are still available for prompt loading to the Caribbean, but there has not been a great deal of enquiry this week. Some caustic has been quoted into Jamaica and 8,000 tons to 12,000 tons of palm oil was seeking space into Mexico for later in May. Ten thousand cubic meters of ethanol looks to have fixed from the U.S. Gulf to Cartagena, Colombia, for prompt loading in the vicinity of $275,000.

There has been a little more cargo volume noted to South America during the week, with a couple of scheduled ships filling up, but several more are still able to offer May space. Ethanol has been resurrected into Brazil, and caustic and styrene are also reported to be moving in this direction. Freight levels have remained intact as a consequence.

Eastbound routes are still short on space, and a major producer ended up filling a ship with 15,000 tons to 16,000 tons of multiple grades of chemicals and base oil from the Texas Gulf to the United Kingdom off of prompt dates. Methanol has accounted for a couple of vessels and more ethanol was done from the U.S. Gulf to northwestern Europe. Potential cargoes of cyclohexane and cumene have been mentioned, and one trader was again looking at orthoxylene to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam. Three thousand tons to 4,000 tons of linear alkyl benzene from Becancour, Canada, to Algeciras, Spain, was noted for prompt due to a late-running vessel. Ethylbenzene and caustic have been mentioned, and yet more yellow grease was worked from Norfolk, Virginia. A large lot of ethanol is claimed to have fixed from the U.S. Gulf to Lagos, Nigeria, in the low $800,000 range.

There is undoubtedly May space to Asia still obtainable from a couple of carriers, but several new requirements have been bounced around, despite the lengthy public holidays in Asia this week. Twenty-three thousand five hundred tons of tallow and yellow grease finalized from Houston to Singapore for the second half of May, but there is a further 10,000 tons of the same product still to be shipped from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Singapore for the second half of May as the first vessel was unable to accommodate the entire volume. A chemical tanker that had been circulated as being available for clean petroleum is now said to have gone on berth with 35,000 tons of chemicals from Texas City to the East. Twenty-five thousand tons of canola oil from Vancouver, Canada, to China was booked in the high $30s per metric ton, up from the usual mid $30s/t.

Business to India and the Middle East Gulf has been steady. Several large shipments of ethanol were booked for loading in May and June. Traders have come out with 10,000 tons to 20,000 tons of styrene from the U.S. Gulf to the west coast of India-Pakistan range for end May loading, while some of the base oil requirements to India are still believed to be uncovered.


Despite the almost pan-European May Day holiday last week, business on the North Sea and Baltic route has prevailed reasonably well, and owners have succeeded in pushing their ships forward by another week to 10 days. Biodiesel has been exceptionally busy, but there has also been a reasonable spread of grades quoted, including caustic, ethanol, base oil, benzene, toulene, xylene, methanol and methyl tertiarybutyl ether. With no great oversupply of tonnage to challenge freight levels, rates are mostly unchanged.

Completion space is almost always available into the Mediterranean, but demand for space is robust, and owners are generally able to fill out their vessels. Most business is centered on the West Mediterranean rather than directly into the East Mediterranean or the Black Sea. Biodiesel has been really prolific and a useful way for owners to get their ships re-positioned back into the Mediterranean, whether directly into Spain, Italy or the Black Sea, or whether in short hops. Ships have been noted taking cargoes of base oil into Turkey and Italy, while a major has been looking to deliver 24,000 tons of base oils to its new storage facility in Spain. Shipments of caustic, ethanol, ethylene dichloride, acrylonitrile and wax have been seen and paraxylene has been active, with cargoes fixed out of Rotterdam; Gonfreville, France; and the Baltic.

Biodiesel has been active on the Northbound route too. Parcels of caustic, ethanol, pyrolysis gasoline and benzene have been booked, and some base oil was noted from Augusta, Sicily. A couple of ships also secured methanol cargoes from Marsa el Brega, Libya, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, with more volume quoted for later in May.

Plenty of biodiesel business has occurred within the Mediterranean this week. Many of the voyages are short, running along the Spanish coast for instance, or only as far as Southern France or the west coast of Italy, but owners have found that by stringing several consecutive voyages together they are able to eat up a week with almost zero ballasting or waiting time, while the total revenue can be substantially higher than for fixing one single long voyage. Shipments of methyl tertiarybutyl ether, methanol, caustic, base oils and vegetable oil are among the other large bulk cargoes that have provided a means of criss-crossing the Mediterranean this week.

It has been a quieter week on the westbound routes. Paraxylene showed promise for a while, but one of the requirements was pulled and fixed into Sines, Portugal, instead. Traders are still studying paraxylene possibilities into the U.S. Atlantic Coast using material brought down from the Baltic, but nothing is believed fixed so far. A large lot of base oils was briefly quoted from Hamburg, Germany, but it too seems to have faded. A couple of sulphuric acid enquiries are outstanding but are for June shipment and so not high priority. Urea ammonia nitrate continues to be quoted into Canada and the U.S. Small parcels of wax and solvents have been noted, but these are merely completion possibilities.

Lengthy public holidays in Asia effectively quelled demand on those routes this week, which has led to several vessels holding May completion space. A cargo of paraxylene that was attempted to China from Rotterdam came to nothing. Some of the base oil business did however materialize to Singapore, and a couple of small parcels, such as nonene, butanediol, alcohols and plasticizers were noted.

Owners are scratching around for cargoes to fill out their remaining tanks to send to India and the Middle East Gulf. Two thousand tons of linear alkyl benzene went from the west coast of Italy to Mumbai, India, and some solvents were pushed around from Temryuk, Russia. Another large phosphoric acid cargo was quoted to Kakinada, India, from La Skhira, Tunisia. Two thousand tons of hexane and solvents were circulated from Rotterdam to Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Brokers are quoting 10,000 tons to 15,000 tons of what they call clean petroleum from the Black Sea to the west coast of India, but which could easily be paraxylene or base oil. Others really are looking at 6,000 tons to 7,000 tons of base oils in this direction from Kavkaz, Russia. Small lots of acetone and oxo-alcohols have been sprinkled around from the Baltic, Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Lavera, France.


With Japan out on Golden Week, and China also taking a lengthy public holiday, it was always going to be a challenging week for new business on domestic routes. Many of the ships that were open the first half of May are still open in roughly the same position, though a few fortunate vessels are now fixed through to June. A few base oil cargoes have popped up, including parcels into Taicang, China; Haiphong, Vietnam; Bangkok; and Manila, Philippines. Some of the southbound movements have yielded firmer levels, with 5,000-ton parcels from Korea to Singapore hitting mid $20s/t. Six thousand tons of styrene from Daesan, South Korea, to Hong Kong went for $24.50/t. Cargoes such as 2,000 tons of cyclohexane from Ulsan, South Korea, to Rayong, Thailand, 5,000 tons of alpha olefins from Daesan to Singapore and 1,500 tons mixed xylenes to acetone from Ulsan to Port Klang, Malaysia, remain uncovered for yet another week. Pyrolysis gasoline continues to ship from Mailiao, Taiwan, to Singapore, with numbers now in the mid $40s/t, up from the mid- to high $30s/t of last week. Northbound has been flat however, while parcels of aromatics and biodiesel have given a little bit of demand intra-Southeast Asia.

Hardly any new space has appeared on the Transpacific route for May, and rates are very firm, with even huge cargoes of benzene paying low $50s/t to the U.S. Gulf. Base oils have been seen from Korea and Southeast Asia to the U.S. Gulf, and more sulphuric acid has been booked to Chile through to June. Space is very scarce to Europe for May, deterring some charterers from entering the market. It remains busy on the biofuels front, with some cargoes repeatedly quoted. Four thousand tons of base oils were quoted from Singapore to Rotterdam, and 3,000 tons of aromatics were quoted from Ulsan to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam.

It has been very busy in the regional markets with substantial volumes of paraxylene, glycol, ethylene dichloride, styrene, linear alkyl benzene, base oils, pyrolysis gasoline, benzene and methanol noted. Eastbound comprises many smaller parcels under 5,000 tons. There has also been the occasional enquiry for 30,000 tons of chemicals to Northeast Asia, or 5,000 tons to 10,000 tons of base oils to China, while some of the 15,000-ton enquiries for paraxylene and methanol that have been around a week or two are still uncovered. Westbound space remains tight, and cargoes such as 6,000 tons of benzene from Mangalore, India, to Huelva, Spain, are claimed to have fetched low- to mid-$70s/t. Several base oil parcels have been quoted to Europe and Brownsville, Texas.

This report was originally featured in the May 8 edition of Lube Report Americas.

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 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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