The meteoric rise in clean petroleum freight that occurred last week was not replicated in the chemical shipping market. However, there has been sustained demand in all regions and on some routes freights have moved up, albeit cautiously.
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With tonnage seemingly in short supply, several owners are repositioning vessels into the Caribbean from Europe. A small parcel of caustic was booked into Colombia, while others try to place caustic into Puerto Moin, Costa Rica; Rio Haina, Dominican Republic; and Barranquilla, Colombia, but as that cargo is only to be shipped much later in the year the charterers are fairly relaxed about achieving their freight ideas. Five thousand tons of caustic has also been quoted from Point Comfort, Texas, to Port Hawkesbury, Canada, and Quebec. Six thousand tons of ethanol was seen quoting to Kingston, Jamaica, and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Part-cargo space has been made available on several ships to South America at the beginning of November. Currently, demand favors the larger cargoes, such as urea ammonia nitrate to Argentina from Geismar, Louisiana, and Donaldsonville, Louisiana, while 40,000 tons of caustic was being attempted from the U.S. Gulf to Vila do Conde, Brazil.
The market to Northwestern Europe appears to be steady with no startling developments. Traders are believed to be looking at shipping ethylbenzene across to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, and there has been mention of ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol has also been attempted to Lagos, Nigeria, for early November. Another ship is believed to be loading a combination cargo of ethanol and base oil from the U.S. Gulf to Lagos for a total freight of $1.35 million. Three thousand tons of fishoil was quoted from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Ghent, Belgium, for November. A lot of glycol has been identified going across into the Mediterranean from the U.S. Gulf. Six thousand tons of ethylene dichloride and 3,000 tons of caustic potash Convent, Louisiana, and Taft, Louisiana, to Tarragona, Spain, appears to be unfixed so far, but the cargo is only for the second half of November.
Owners are seeking higher levels along the route to Asia, partly in response to a tighter space situation, but also because of the switch to compliant low-sulphur fuels that will be necessary for ships loading later in November. Five thousand tons of styrene was being attempted from Houston to Korea for prompt loading. Fifteen thousand to 18,000 tons of ethanol looks to have fixed from Clatskanie, Oregon, to Philippines. Two shipments, each of 40,000 tons of methanol were quoted to Asia for November, with one being stemmed from the UISG and the other from the Caribbean. Three thousand cubic meters of ethanol was noted from New Orleans to Ulsan, South Korea, for the first half of December. Ten thousand tons of vegetable oil was seen from the U.S. Gulf to Pyongtaek, South Korea, for November.
The tender to sell 10,000 tons base oils from the U.S. Gulf to India and the Middle East Gufl was supposed to have closed last Friday. However, no news has been received so far, and the feeling is that with freights being in the $60s/t it would not be economic to ship the cargo to India. Traders are looking at doing 5,000 tons styrene Houston to Mumbai, India, or Pakistan for prompt loading.
The clean petroleum market in the North Sea and Baltic enjoyed one of the strongest weeks of the entire year but has since been falling back into line. Its success did not rub off onto the chemical market, where trade seemed steady and rates were mostly repetitive. FAME, whilst fairly busy, has not been as dominant as previously. Aromatics have been a bit busier than usual, as have gasoline components. Base oils saw more cargoes into the Baltic than earlier in the month, and there have been a few base oil exports back out from Kaliningrad, Russia, and Riga, Latvia.
Business has been busy southbound, except for cargoes to Turkey, with some owners expressing (so far unfounded) concern about collateral damage arising from possible sanctions when going to Turkey. Eight thousand tons of alkylate fixed from Pembroke, United Kingdom, to Greece. Two thousand oleins from Aarhus, Denmark, to Venice paid $210,000. Several cargoes of caustic have been attempted by different charterers to Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and the Ukraine. A cargo of orthoxylene was booked from Gonfreville, France, to Genoa, Italy, and some vinyl acetate monomer was looking to ship to Genoa too. Ten thousand tons paraxylene concluded from Antwerp, Belgium, to Iskenderun, Turkey, and 5,000 tons of styrene is looking to go from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to Yumurtalik, Turkey. Five thousand tons of acrylonitrile fixed from Ventspils, Latvia, to Yalova, Turkey. Five thousand to 6,000 tons of ethylene dichloride is looking to ship to Egypt. Twenty-one thousand tons of base oils were quoted from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Valencia, Spain, and some large lots of FAME were noted too.
Aromatics continue to generate activity northbound, with several of the pyrolysis gasoline stems booked, and with more benzene pushed around from Skikda, Algeria, and Sarroch, Italy. Another 3,000 tons of toluene concluded from Algeciras, Spain, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam as well, and 2,350 tons of cyclohexanone from Genoa to Hemiksem, Belgium, yielded 55/t. Two thousand five hundred tons of wax went from Augusta, Sicily, to Moerdijk, Netherlands, and 8,000-9,000 tons of aromatics concluded from Algeciras and Huelva, Spain, to Antwerp, Belgium. Seven thousand tons of base oils were booked from Augusta to Port Jerome, France, and Rotterdam. Four thousand tons of toluene from Priolo, Italy, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam was covered.
Prompt space remains elusive in the West Mediterranean, and now ships with suitable last-cargoes to load vegetable oil in the Black Sea are also becoming scarce. There are however quite a lot of ships that are some 7-10 days ahead, with the result that there is heavy competition for cargoes loading in these time frames. Caustic enjoyed another busy spell, as did aromatics, but FAME was perhaps slower. A cargo of base oil was booked into Italy and Israel from Spain, but otherwise base oil has been slow.
More business has been done westbound, with quite a bit of benzene and pyrolysis gasoline being pushed around. Some of the toluene and mixed xylenes requirements have concluded too. Five thousand five hundred tons of base oils from Rotterdam to Houston were heard fixed in the mid $30s/t, but the base oil to Tampa, Florida, has not yet firmed up sufficiently to be worked. Eighteen thousand tons of ammonium polyphosphate was booked from Sillamae, Estonia, to Corpus Christi, Texas, and some sulphuric acid loaded in Pori, Finland. Some caustic has been circulated to Fall River, Massachusetts, and 10,000 tons of paraxylene was noted Antwerp to Cooper River, South Carolina.
Ample tonnage availability to the Far East from both scheduled and unscheduled tonnage is keeping rates at competitive levels, even though there has been a slight upswing in demand. Attempts to move yet more styrene have been thwarted so far by closed arbs. A cargo of methanol was seemingly worked from Arzew, Algeria, to Southeast Asia at very sharp numbers, and 5,800 tons of base oils from Kaliningrad to Singapore fetched around $80/t for direct sailing. Small parcels of speciality chemicals have been seen to Vietnam; Batangas, Philippines; Taiwan; and Korea. Seven thousand tons of cumene concluded from Huelva to Caojing, China.
Larger cargoes of vegetable oil and acid continue to get fixed to India and the Middle East Gulf, with rates being in the mid $40s/t and mid $30s/t respectively. Small parcels see strong rates – $115/t for example was done on 1,000 tons linear alkyl benzene from Alexandria, Egypt, to Kandla, India, but numbers for mid-sized parcels have not changed much.
The market in Northeast Asia has numerous cargoes for loading within October, probably because of the recent typhoons. Space is tight and rates firm around these dates. Better demand is being seen for November loading as well, and there have even been some December requirements hitting the marketplace. A full range of grades are seeking space – phenol, acetone, isopropanol, acrylonitrile, toluene, mixed xylenes, paraxylene, benzene, styrene, solvent naphtha C9, light cycle oil, methyl isobutyl ketone, vinasses and base oil.
A few owners are believed to be sailing southbound with space, particularly from Japan, even though there have been a few parcels of aromatics, styrene and base oils quoted to Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam this week. Three thousand tons of vegetable oil from Qingdao, China, to Hong Kong remains unfixed for mid-November. A couple of very large cargoes of caustic have been seen for November, and some medium-sized clean petroleum shipments were mentioned from Korea and Japan to Philippines. Nine thousand to 10,000 tons of methyl tertiarybutyl ether 2-N.China to 2-Straits was heard to have been worked in the low $30s/t.
Prompt space northbound is limited. After a couple of weeks being quoted, 6,000 tons of benzene from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, to Jiangyin, China, for prompt loading is still uncovered. Three thousand five hundred tons of pyrolysis gasoline was noted from Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, to Nantong, China, for end October, and a further 5,000 tons of pyrolysis gasoline was pushed from Map Ta Phut to Tianjin, China. Six thousand tons of unconverted oil from Bangkok to Ulsan Nov. 1-5 was struggling for another week to find space.
Owners with smaller vessels in Southeast Asia have been left with prompt space to fill. Five thousand tons of 2-ethylhexanol was quoted from Gresik, Indonesia, to Dongguan, China, for mid-November, the end October cargo having been fixed to mid-China, reportedly in the high $30s/t. Three thousand six hundred tons of pyrolysis gasoline was noted from Map Ta Phut to Singapore and 2,000 tons of mixed xylenes was seen from Map Ta Phut to Godau, Vietnam. A tender to sell 2,000 tons of base oils from Sri Racha, Thailand, for November has attracted local interest.
The main excitement on the transpacific route has been a possible combination of 20,000 tons of paraxylene and 18,000 tons of benzene from Korea, along with sulphuric acid to Chile. Space is tight to Europe amid substantial demand for biofuels. Some acids and solvents are believed to have been booked to Turkey. Five thousand tons of acetic acid was quoted from Kerteh, Malaysia, to Antwerp. Two thousand tons of acrylonitrile was noted from Ulsan to Immingham, England, and there has been 2,000 tons of orthoxylene from Ulsan to Genoa, Italy, and 2,200 tons of acetic acid from Mailiao, Taiwan, to Yumurtalik. More sulphuric acid was quoted from China to Morocco.
Good demand is being seen in the regional markets, and rates are firm. Ten thousand tons of easy chemicals from Mesaieed, Qatar, to Haldia, India, went in the $40s/t, while 4,000 tons of paraffins from Sohar, Oman, to Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, yielded $42/t. Twelve thousand five hundred tons of base oils from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Mumbai and Chennai, India, are understood to have obtained mid- to high $40s/t.
More base oils have been moving from Yanbu and Jeddah to Karachi, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates, with further base oil enquiries noted from Al Ruwais, U.A.E. Eastbound revealed a substantial number of requirements, some of which are believed to be contractual obligations on which owners have been holding back from taking due to the strength of the clean petroleum market. Twenty-three thousand tons of aromatics from the west coast of India to China seemingly went for $32-33/t, while a couple of 18,000 tons shipments were booked in the mid $30s/t.
Westbound space remains tight and rates are firm. Two thousand five hundred tons of base oils fixed from Yanbu to Alexandria, but there are still deliveries for November and December to be covered. Cargoes of caustic, methyl tertiarybutyl ether, methanol, vinyl acetate monomer and canola have been noted.
This report was originally featured in the October 23 edition of Lube Report Americas.
Adrian Brown, a senior market analyst for chemicals and base oils with SSY Shipbrokers, London, can be reached email@example.com +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.