SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


It has not been suchan active week in Europe, although things have been busy in Asia and many ships are now booked ahead through the month. The market in the Americas remains dismal.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico
At the risk of repeating last weeks information, many ships in the Gulf lay idle the entire week. The U.S. Gulf to the Caribbean cannot offer much relief, as there is minimal activity taking place.

The U.S. Gulf to East Coast of South America route remains tight, but only because contractual volumes fill all the scheduled space. There is nothing much left, however, for spot players, and perversely this lack of space is a deterrent for charterers who wish to send spot material into Brazil or Argentina.

Freight rates on both routes remain unchanged.

Transatlantic eastbound is looking more shaky than normal, and some very competitive freights have been done. Small parcels of less than 3,000 tons are not so much affected, unless the cargo dates match those of the ship in which case rates down into the $40s per ton can be achieved.

The U.S. Gulf to the Far East is beginning to see a few new requirements, typically acrylonitrile, acetone and glycols, but mostly in the 3,000 to 6,000 ton size range. A two-tier freight structure has developed, with some fixtures seeing mid $50s/t for 5,000 tons from the U.S. Gulf to China, while others have been done in the mid $60s/t. It mostly boils down to the owner and his perception of freight on the day.

The U.S. Gulf to the Middle East Gulf is a fair bit quieter. There have been some vegetable oils and phenol traded but little else this week. Numbers are essentially unchanged from the previous week.

There has been sufficient business within the North Sea and Baltic to employ the majority of ships for a week or so going forward, which is fairly surprising since the holiday season is now well under way.

There are still gaps both southbound into the Mediterranean and northbound from the Mediterranean which keeps freight rates soft in both directions.

Intra-Mediterranean demand, however, has been robust and the majority of ships are well-booked ahead in the Western Mediterranean. There is a bit more clean petroleum and a reasonable amount of vegetable oil to cater for those vessels open in the Eastern Mediterranean or Black Sea.

Transatlantic westbound has come off the boil as the arbitrages for most aromatics are now closed. Prompt space is pretty tight, and some owners claim to be seeing freights in the low to mid $50s/t for prompt 5,000 ton parcels for Rotterdam to Houston, but we are also aware of some fixtures that have been concluded in the $40s/t for early August loading.

Europe to the Far East is stable. August requirements are starting to surface but there are sufficient ships already scheduled to be able to contain demand and stop freights from rising further.

Europe to India and the Middle East Gulf is stable, too, although there is a shortage of stainless space for phosphoric acid cargoes to India. Traders have been trying to ship base oils in this direction but most have been unsuccessful so far.

It was a better week on the Domestic Asian market, and the bulk of the coastal fleet is covered well into August. Many charterers, too, have fulfilled their remaining August deliveries, which means that spot demand should begin to tail off now.

Freight levels have generally been unchanged within the region. Export markets have been steady, with satisfactory demand for palm oil and biodiesel, along with the occasional parcel of aromatics or sulphuric acid.
In the Middle East Gulf to India trade, westbound is still producing the occasional cargo such as methanol, MTBE or aromatics. From West Coast India to Turkey, a 5,000 ton parcel of aromatics went just short of $80/t, for example.

Eastbound is not that busy and there are clearly ships available, but there are some cargoes that have been difficult to cover and the charterers are looking at ways to spread the net wider, such as widening the laycan or increasing the size of cargo to make it look more attractive. The general tone of this route, however, is that freights are weaker.

Adrian Brown is senior market analyst for chemicals and base oils with SSY Shipbrokers, London. Information about SSY can be found at Adrian Brown, in the U.K., can be reached at or by phone at +44 1207-507507. In the London office SSYs Jordi Maymi can be reached at or +44 20 7977 7560.

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