SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


It has been a rather slow week in all the main markets. Nothing much has happened in the U.S. or Europe, and even Asia has been more dull than usual.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico
Rates have remained static across the main trade lanes out of the U.S.

U.S. Gulf to Far East showed some potential earlier on, with enquiries of styrene, mixed xylenes, ethylene dichloride, ethanol and even a small base oils requirement, but owners with April vessels have been struggling to fill the last remaining tanks, suggesting that most of the requirements are not firm, but merely rate checking.

Transatlantic eastbound produced very little to excite owners, and apart from a large cargo of ethanol into the Baltic, the only other enquiries have been for small parcels of vegetable oil, glycol, amines and lysine. U.S. Gulf to the east coast of South America saw little fixing occur over the past week, but that may be attributed to the lack of prompt space, since most enquiries specified prompt loading.

U.S. Gulf to the Caribbean recorded plenty of small vegetable oil and tallow requirements, and small cargoes of clean petroleum have been busier, yet rates are all practically unchanged.

The coastal markets are the only areas in Europe where there has been a slight upswing in demand. Deep sea requirements have been uninspiring.

Transatlantic westbound has continued to see traders hunt down ships able to take pyrolysis gasoline to the U.S. Gulf, but the only fixtures have been from the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Very little has actually fixed across from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam.
Europe to Far East volumes have been a bit thin and some of the outsiders on berth have been having difficulty filling out their last bits of space. So far, rate indications suggest owners are keeping the same freight levels, although these may face some challenges over the next couple of days unless there is a significant improvement in cargo volumes.

Base oils have been found looking to move to both India and the Middle East Gulf, probably due to higher Iranian base oil prices driving buyers to shop further afield. At least one cargo of 10,000 tons of base oils was booked from the Black Sea.

April is virtually booked out on both space and cargoes on the domestic Asia market, but May has yet to properly get motoring. For sure, there have been a number of aromatics and glycols quoted into China, but the pace of styrene fixing has been slower, and indeed there is styrene now possibly being shipped from China into Southeast Asia. Methanol, too, is appearing for export from China, which is a little unusual since China is a major importer.

Base oils have been fairly active, however, both inter-Far East as well as out of Southeast Asia. Some base oils have appeared on Asia export cargo lists too, but most are internal company shuffles rather than spot trades. On the whole, export volumes to Europe, U.S., and India are steady, if nothing exceptional. Rates are generally clinging to the numbers agreed in preceding fixtures.

Middle East Gulf to India has been a bit brighter, especially westbound. Space here is trickier to locate, and there are some decent requirements in the market, including methanol, MTBE, glycols, caustic, aromatics, cyclohexane, and ethanol. Eastbound has been fairly busy too, and a number of requirements remain uncovered, despite having been quoted over a week ago. Large slugs of methanol, MTBE and canola oil have been detected, along with moderate volumes of styrene, paraxylene, orthoxylene, ethanol and paraffins.

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

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