SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


Another slow week all around, but at least Europe and the Americas have been somewhat busier than the previous weeks. Asia, however, has stalled a little and there are still a small number of end of July open positions.

U.S. Gulf

Routes from the United States Gulf to the Far East have been a little more active and in some instances it has been almost difficult to cover some of the remaining July cargoes, particularly if they require specific conditions of carriage, such as heating and stainless. Base oils in the amount of 8,300 tons were booked from Houston to Singapore in the mid $60s per metric ton, and there have been some ethanol shipments that have paid into the $60s/t too, taking rates up from the low $50s/t, where they have been languishing for a long time. However, owners attempts to raise rates across the board have not been that successful, since attempts to ship 10,000 ton cargoes of ethylene dichloride to Asia were thwarted by increased freight levels. Traders have also been checking out styrene to Asia, although we have only heard of one parcel being covered so far. Other products being investigated include phenol and acrylonitrile.

Transatlantic eastbound has also been attracting trader interest in styrene, but scheduled carriers are nearly full with cargoes from their contractual partners, which has allowed some of the outsiders that have been hovering around in the U.S. Gulf to snap some of these up. Rates are therefore still holding in the low $40s/t, on the basis of 5,000 ton parcels from Houston to Rotterdam.

There is a bit of space on shipments from the U.S. Gulf Mediterranean, too, with owners indicating levels in the low-mid $60s/t for 5,000 ton parcels going from Houston to Turkey.

U.S. Gulf-to-Caribbean has seen a touch more interest in chemicals parcels, but there is more than enough space available on vessels already trading in the area for rates to change.

It is the same on the U.S. Gulf-to-east coast of South America service, except outsiders are less inclined to want to go south to Brazil or Argentina because the market coming back out is not that great. For bigger vessels, the Caribbean clean petroleum market is strong and so there is even less incentive to go on berth southbound.

U.S. Gulf-to-Middle East Gulf-India remains stable. Some small lots of base oils have been spoken about, and there are apparently some larger lots of ethanol also looking at possibly heading out to India.


Whilst it would be incorrect to call the North Sea and Baltic busy, there have at last been some positive contributions and more owners have managed to fill ahead by a week or so, and in some cases, well into August. The clean petroleum market has been busier and contributed to the feel-good factor. Contractual volumes have also recovered to the extent that some owners have been caught without having tonnage on suitable dates and have therefore have lost the cargoes to the spot market. In all probability, this spurt of activity may simply have been caused by those charterers wrapping things up before heading off on holiday.

Movements have remained fairly strong southbound into the Mediterranean with a wide array of cargoes noted.

Northbound has not been so busy, but all the same, there have been a few parcels that have taken a while to get covered.

Intra-Mediterranean markets have been busier. There has been a lot more clean petroleum business, and in addition, cargoes such as FAME, ethanol and MTBE have been active, probably because of heightened automotive fuel requirements.

Transatlantic westbound has not been up to the same standard as the previous week. Many of the aromatics requirements that had been there just fizzled. Rates are largely unchanged, chiefly because there is not much being worked that could challenge the status quo. A 6,000 ton caustic cargo was tried from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to the U.S. Atlantic Coast at around $40/t, but even this failed to materialize.

Europe-to-Far East is not busy, but there is a certain amount of resilience among the owners to not reduce rates. Consequently, 5,000 ton parcels from Rotterdam to Mainport Far East are still faced with rates of mid $80s/t, at least. Perhaps if there were more cargo volume, some of the outsiders could get on berth and then there may be opportunities to pick off some of the space at lower numbers, but so far the route is dominated by scheduled carriers who do not have lots of space and can afford to stick to their principles. Some very small cargoes of base oils have been fixing to Asia, but rates are not that much higher than the rates for large cargoes. The trade in hydrocracker bottoms to Korea continues with a further 30,000 tons quoted from Spain.

Rates on the Europe to India-Middle East Gulf route have been stable, backed by a further round of vegetable oil fixtures from the Black Sea that has cleared away a large part of the excess space from this area.


There has not been any significant change to the Asia domestic market since last week, which means that there are still one or two open positions within July. What seems to have happened is that the market has moved on and most quotations are for August loading, which might provoke some attractive freights for those who have prompt cargoes to ship.

Asia exports also had a rather mundane week with more or less the same ships open with space now as at this time last week. There even looks to be a couple of scheduled ships from Korea to Europe that still have open space and which could potentially lower levels on that route. There is not much benzene right now from Asia to the U.S. and there are a couple of positions with space too. Base oils in the amount of 20,000 tons from Singapore to the U.S. Gulf fixed in the high $70s/t. From Korea to U.S. Gulf, 5,000 tons of base oils should command no more than mid $60s/t and possibly even lower on select positions.

Asia-to-India remains firm and there is not much space left for this month. Palm oil trades have continued to feed cargoes into India, in spite of the monsoons, and rates are stable. The Middle East Gulf-India region remains firm on the whole, while a lot of demand is apparent, both east and westbound.

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 Panos Giannoulis can be reached at or +44 20 7977 7538 and in Singapore Jordi Maymi at +65 6854 7127.

Related Topics

Logistics & Distribution    Shipping