SSY Base Oil Shipping Report

A faint yet discernible increase in activity has been seen in both the United States and Asian markets. Some European routes are also in a healthier state, but there are some routes that have stagnated.

Americas

The Caribbean market does not seem to be hugely busy. One thousand six hundred tons of two grades of base oils were quoted from the U.S. Gulf to Rio Haina, Dominican Republic, for November loading, but the cargo seems to have been withdrawn meantime. Thirty thousand to 40,000 tons of methanol was quoted from Point Lisas, Trinidad and Tobago, to the U.S. Gulf for prompt loading. The requirement to send ethanol to Kingston, Jamaica, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, looks to have been covered. There was also a prompt possibility to ship a large ethanol cargo U.S. Gulf to the east coast of Mexico for which owners were seeking $350,000-400,000. Fifteen thousand tons of motor gasoline was quoted from Houston to Tuxpan, Mexico.

The market to South America is stable for parcels, but larger lots have been influenced by the strength in the clean petroleum market. Forty thousand tons of urea ammonia nitrate was fixed from the U.S. Gulf to 3-Argentina at $1.7 million, for example. The next requirement to send 20,000-24,000 tons of ethylene dichloride and caustic from the U.S. Gulf to Maceio, Brazil, and Aratu, Brazil, has been quoted for the second half of November. Further parcels of caustic, ethylene dichloride, ethanol and paraxylene were attempted, but with only limited success it seems.

Traders have been actively looking for November space for assorted requirements along the transatlantic route, including methanol, styrene, ethylbenzene, cyclohexane and glycols. A parcel of used cooking oil was noted from Newark, New Jersey, to Tees, England, and Immingham, England. Two thousand five hundred cubic meters of ethanol was quoted from Houston to Sodertaelje, Sweden, for prompt, while others were pushing a much larger cargo of ethanol and biodiesel from New Orleans to Sweden.

There are several owners who can still offer November space to Asia, but demand does seem to be escalating. So far, rates do not appear to have increased further. Ten thousand tons of ethylene dichloride is thought to be on subjects to Taiwan for prompt loading. A number of ethanol enquiries have been seen, ranging in size from 3,000cbm to 20,000cbm to Korea and Philippines. Further styrene possibilities have been noted, and traders have also been studying the possibility to send phenol and glycols to the Far East, although none have been covered so far. Thirty-eight thousand tons of ETBE from the U.S. Gulf to Asia was worked at $1.625 million, but has yet to fix cleanly.

The India and Middle East Gulf route feels busier, with limited vessel availability in November. An outsider has gone on berth with a combination of styrene and ethanol to India. More styrene has been quoted, with parcels ranging from 5,000 tons to 15,000 tons. Two thousand tons of ethylene dichloride was seen from the U.S. Gulf to Adabiya, Egypt, with the same charterers looking at 5,000 tons of ethanol to the west coast of India. Five thousand tons of base oils were quoted from Houston to the west coast of India the first half of November.

Europe

Activity levels have been a little short of adequate in the North Sea and Baltic, meaning that a few more prompt open positions have appeared. More chemical tankers than usual have been deployed in the small clean petroleum market, which is more a sign of a lack of usual business rather than a shortage of clean petroleum carriers. Biofuels have not been as busy as usual, whereas aromatics have been sustained, with cargoes being booked from Liepaja, Latvia; Stanlow, England; and Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam.

Cargo flows have been disappointing and given the large number of Mediterranean-based vessels appearing in the position lists during the first half of November the expectation is for heightened competition over cargoes. Larger biodiesel cargoes have been noted into the West Mediterranean and Black Sea and there are still caustic shipments being booked. Parcels of vinyl acetate monomer, GTL and ethanol have added some variety.

It has been a steady week northbound. Pyrolysis gasoline in particular has generated shipments from Aliaga, Turkey; Venice; and Berre, France, and now there is a tender for a new cargo out of Rijeka, Croatia. Benzene is still being attempted from Sarroch, Italy, and several biodiesel shipments have been seen from ports such as Varna, Bulgaria; Vasto, Italy; and Huelva, Spain.

Freights have been showing a firm tendency within the Mediterranean, in spite of reduced spot activity, which is probably linked to the switch from high-sulfur fuel oil to compliant fuels, especially as the majority of ship owners are coming down in favour of marine gas oil, in the short term at least. Caustic remains active and there has been interest in shipping styrene to Turkey from Tarragona, Spain.

Space is fairly tight along the transatlantic route, and outsiders have successfully scooped up spot volumes such as 12,500 tons of paraxylene from Rotterdam to the east coast of Mexico at around $33/t. Eight thousand tons of benzene, toulene, and xylene from Gonfreville, France, to the U.S. Gulf fixed in the high $40s/t on another outsider. Five thousand five hundred tons of base oils were covered from Rotterdam to Houston for about $33/t. Others covered 9,000 tons base oils from Rotterdam to New Orleans, while a further requirement of 3,200 tons of two grades of base oils was quoted from Rotterdam to Houston. Eight thousand eight hundred tons of paraxylene concluded from Antwerp to Cooper River, South Carolina, and further cargoes of methanol, caustic and sulphuric acid have been quoted.

From the Mediterranean, 11,000 tons base oils were fixed from Augusta, Sicily, to Houston. Four thousand tons of toluene fixed from Priolo, Italy, to the U.S. Gulf, and 2,600 tons pyrolysis gasoline is believed to have been chartered from Augusta to the U.S. Gulf, Three thousand tons of wax is being attempted from Augusta to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A cargo of molasses fixed from Egypt to Montreal while 20,000 tons of reformate concluded from Barcelona, Spain, to the U.S. Gulf for $750,000. Methanol has been seen from Kulevi, Georgia, to the U.S. Gulf, whereas the methanol cargo from Marsa, Malta, has been put on hold. A cargo of cumene was quoted from Huelva to the U.S. Gulf and traders have been looking at sending pyrolysis gasoline from Rijeka across. Eleven thousand tons of pyrolysis gasoline has also been seen from Bilbao, Spain, to the U.S. Gulf.

It has not been a busy week to Asia. No more styrene has been attempted, but 2,900 tons of butanediol from Rotterdam to Dongnai, Vietnam, was booked, as was 3,000 tons of rubber process oil from Hamburg to Ulsan, South Korea, and Ningbo, China. Small parcels of oxo-alcohol and glycol ethers have been seen, and a cargo of urea ammonia nitrate to Kwinana, Australia, is still uncovered and attracting very strong freight ideas, thanks to the change in bunker regulations.

A string of cargo possibilities has been seen to India and the Middle East Gulf this week, consisting mostly of small lots, the rates for which are firm. However, Indian authorities seem to have called a halt to hexane imports for the next six months. Four thousand three hundred tons of chemicals 2-Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to 3-Red Sea and Middle East Gulf attained around $100/t.

Asia

Space has tightened further in Northeast Asia as China especially has ramped up its imports, which is not uncommon at this time of year. The number of ships arriving with benzene and paraxylene has increased substantially, and there have also been movements of toluene, phenol, acetone, mixed xylenes, solvent naphtha C9, methyl isobutyl ketone, styrene and base oils. Rates are firmer.

Demand has not changed greatly southbound but the supply of tonnage has tightened thanks to better opportunities within Northeast Asia. Rates look firmer as a result, and a cargo of methyl tertiarybutyl ether for example from Korea to Southeast Asia failed subjects on one vessel but was subsequently re-fixed on another vessel at higher levels.

Activity levels northbound are moderate. Several shipments of benzene were booked into China from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, and further aromatics cargoes have been heard from Southeast Asia. Several parcels of methyl tertiarybutyl ether and tertiary butyl ether have been seen and there is another naphtha parcel from Kemaman, Malaysia, this time to Wakayama, Japan. PME is thought to be slowing, although a couple of ships have been identified loading PME from Dumai, Indonesia, to China this week.

Contractual movements have become heavier between Southeast Asia, reducing the amount of space available for spot market business. Part-cargo space can still however be found. Small parcels of toluene, base oil, pyrolysis gasoline, paraxylene and benzene are around, while clean petroleum rates for 100k cargoes from Singapore to Yangon, Myanmar, have hit $250,000 this week.

Benzene was attempted for November on the transpacific route, but failed subjects and instead traders have transferred their attention to cargoes for loading the first half of and the second half of December. Fifteen thousand tons of paraxylene was apparently fixed from Korea to the east coast of Mexico on an outsider for November. Small parcels of base oil and vinyl acetate monomer have been talked into Mexico, with 2,000-3,000 tons heard fixed in the mid- to high $90s/t.

The route to Europe remains strong, and space is tight. Rates heard on 2,000-ton parcels of chemicals from Korea to the United Kingdom have been between $140/t and $165/t. Parcels of acrylonitrile, orthoxylene, vinyl acetate monomer and acetic acid have been noted, alongside numerous cargoes of biofuel.

There is no great change to the regional situation in which demand is strong and space is tight for the most part. Eastbound rates are firmer, with 32,000 tons of methanol from Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to China worked in the mid $40s/t, while 32,000 tons aromatics the west coast of India to China attained mid $30s/t.

Westbound space is tight and rates have a firmer tone. Fifteen thousand tons of caustic from Mesaieed, Qatar, to East Mediterranean is looking for prompt space in the high $40s/t. Eighteen thousand to 20,000 tons of benzene, toulene, and xylene the west coast of India to Mediterranean-Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam realized a level in the high $50s/t. Thirteen thousand tons of canola finally fixed from Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, to Rostock, Germany, and several base oil opportunities were quoted from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, to Alexandria, Egypt, and Mohammedia, Morocco.

This report was originally featured in the October 30 edition of Lube Report Americas.

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.