SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


U.S. markets are not busy at the moment, while Europe is understandably quiet amid public holidays. Demand is still poor in Asia.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico
There is not much new to comment on the U.S. at the moment. Cargo volumes on all the main routes are thin and consequently there are prompt ships open that are able to handle the majority of prompt requirements.

Chemical activity in the Caribbean, for example, has been slight, and even small cargoes of clean petroleum have been lacking. Business on the U.S. Gulf to east coast of South America route has also tapered off, leaving a few ships with prompt open space.

The issue with the refinery in La Plata, Argentina is taking longer to resolve and this has produced a number of requirements for different oil products which might swallow some of the space.

Transatlantic eastbound is floating along without really creating many good chances. Traders have been eying styrene to Europe, but have also been watching arbitrage possibilities to sell the material into Asia instead. Acetic acid was seen for a while, while vegetable oils and some ethanol from the Caribbean have been among the more interesting enquiries.

The styrene possibilities to Asia have caused some owners to act more bullishly, abandoning their ideas of mid $60s/t that they were booking just a week or two ago and are instead quoting figures in the low-to-mid $80s, basis 5,000/t from Houston to Yangtze.

The route from the U.S. Gulf to India-Middle East Gulf sees space available on all the main carriers. Volumes are reduced too since they are contemplating double-handling the space via the Mediterranean in order to fill.

Yet more widespread public holidays throughout Europe have robbed the market of any real zest this week, which is a pity, as business had been shaping up fairly well.

Transatlantic westbound has been the most promising of all routes, with very little May space remaining among the principal scheduled carriers. Instead, outsiders have been picking off the larger cargoes of clean petroleum and gasoline components.

Urea ammonia nitrate trades too have provided some stimulus, with bullish numbers quoted into the Lakes. Aromatics continue to be seen too, with pyrolysis gas and paraxylene quotes noted, while biodiesel has been going over from the Baltic, Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, and west Mediterranean.

Europe to Far East has been quiet in contrast. A fixture of 10,000 tons of ethylene dichloride from west Mediterranean to China has been the highlight, paying mid-high $80s/t.

Base oils have perhaps been one of the main products on the Europe to India-Middle East Gulf service, with a handful of shipments fixed, mostly from the Black Sea. Vegetable oils from the same area and to destinations in the Red Sea, Middle East Gulf and India are among the other main products being shipped.

The market in the North Sea and Baltic is rather flat. Prompt space is not a problem, but attempts to fix two or three weeks ahead is much harder since most ships have no program that far out.

Southbound into the Mediterranean sees many of the same requirements as the previous week, which would suggest space is quite tight. Northbound too is surprisingly firm and space is not that easy to come by. Even Inter-Mediterranean routes have been reported to be tight in some areas. However, the recent holidays have interrupted the supply of cargoes going forward, and it remains to be seen how much new business will be quoted this week to close the gaps.

The domestic Asia markets are still considered to be quiet and buying demand is subdued. Some small shipments of base oil have been detected from Korea and Thailand, but regular shipments of aromatics and styrene into China and Taiwan have been disappointing.

Asia Export markets have seen opportunities to ship aromatics and caustic to the U.S., and rates are firm as a consequence. Cyclohexane continues to be seen back to Europe from India and Southeast Asia, along with smaller parcels of paraffins, acid, acrylates, acetates and vinyl acetate monomer.

Small parcels of phenol, acetone, acetic acid, toluene and base oils have been noted from Asia to India-Middle East Gulf, but the volumes seem to be lower when compared to recent weeks.

Palm oil traders confirm seeing more buying enquiries from India and Pakistan, but the trade into China and Korea is rather flat at the moment. Deep-Sea palm oil demand remains good and consequently freights into the U.S. are running at above $100/t, and into the $80s/t for Black Sea destinations.

The Middle East Gulf-India region is subdued on the eastbound leg, with some relet possibilities for styrene, glycols and aromatics among the main requirements at the moment. Large relet cargoes also feature on the westbound service as a few ships are getting late for their contractual liftings.

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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