SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


Some sectors in Europe – but certainly not all – have been relatively busy. The United States is still quiet, but hasnt deteriorated further. Asia had a fairly quiet week with regional holidays.

U.S. Gulf

Cargoes have been more plentiful on the U.S. Gulf-to-Far East route, although not all have been concluded. A cargo of 10,000 tons of paraxylene fixed from the U.S. Gulf to the Far East, but attempts to add a further 5,000 tons failed. Ethylene dichloride in the amount of 5,000 tons was booked from the U.S. Gulf to China, but other charterers with 10,000 tons of ethylene dichloride have not been able to come to terms with owners. Traders are looking to squeeze freights down as much as possible, with talk of mid $40s per metric ton as the target for 5000-10,000 ton cargoes. Owners, meanwhile, faced with a better choice of demand – ethanol, ethylene, paraxylene, styrene, phenol and acrylonitrile, for example – are unwilling to sell out their August space too cheaply in case the market does recover and so are hanging out for mid $50s/t. Base oils have not registered on this route this week, although there is talk of a number of small enquiries looking to ship from the U.S. Gulf to India-Middle East Gulf.

Several large cargoes of 20,000 cubic meters of ethanol have been seen from U.S. Gulf to the west coast of India, which might entice some additional space onto the route. If that is the case, it may be possible to sneak on an additional parcel of base oils at perhaps mid $80s/t.

Transatlantic eastbound has given the appearance of being a little bit busier, perhaps because of an arbitrage for styrene that opened up. Rates are still sitting in the low $40s/t basis 5,000 ton parcels from Houston to Rotterdam.

The routes from the U.S. Gulf to the Caribbean and the U.S. Gulf to the east coast of South America both had a rather dour week with an oversupply of vessels and little demand. Rates are weaker on bother routes.


The end of the month has produced just about enough business to cover the majority of ships trading in the North Sea and Baltic. It has been tough going, however, and rates on routine cargoes betray the weakness in freights in the area. Base oils have been steadily making their way down from the Baltic all month, perhaps more than we saw in June, although the latest batch of cargoes to West Africa have yet to fix.

Southbound into the Mediterranean retains a reasonable pace of fixing and rates are holding. Products include MTBE, benzene, paraxylene, caustic, ethanol, ethylene dichloride, pyrolysis gasoline and FAME.

Northbound remains calm. Base oils have been busy on the intra-Mediterranean routes, especially into Turkey, which is surprising, given that it is Bayram, or the end of Ramadan, and many businesses are on holiday. Generally, space has become a touch tighter within the Mediterranean, and some of the requirements for loading in the West Mediterranean have been tricky to cover. Typically, it is a case of having the wrong ships on the right dates, or the right ships on the wrong dates, thus causing an element of frustration all around.

Transatlantic westbound is still not that busy, but all the same there have been cargoes of aromatics, base oils and caustic and a couple of additional ships have latched on to these parcels. Paraxylene has seen a revival, too, with several cargoes noted. Rates remain in the low-mid $40s/t for 5,000 ton parcels from Rotterdam to Houston.

The route from the Mediterranean to the U.S. is tight on space, especially if loading from installations which are known to have rigorous standards and where owners tend to be gung-ho with numbers in the $110-120/t region for 4,000-5,000 ton parcels.

Europe-to-Far East is sluggish, yet there is not a substantial amount of scheduled space around for August, and at the same time there is not enough demand to spring an extra ship on berth. Consequently, owners are still quoting rates in the mid $90s/t for 5,000 ton parcels from Rotterdam to China. Where a position does match the cargo loading dates, it should be possible to whittle that down to low-mid $80s/t, although nobody has been successful at it so far.

The route from Europe to Middle East Gulf-India does have several vessels that are committed on berth and which can offer completion space. There is some demand for chemicals and base oils but it is patchy with availability issues of the product being a major obstacle. Rates are perhaps unchanged but also untested.


The end of Ramadan is celebrated in a number of Asian countries, which has caused a slowdown in vessel demand in the domestic Asia market. Northbound is about the only main route that can be considered active, with a number of base oil, biodiesel, reformate, aromatics, styrene and glycol possibilities recorded. Southbound is patchy, but there have been a number of base oils shipments from Korea, methanol from China and caustic from a selection of ports in Northeast Asia. Rates do not seem to have altered over the course of the week.

The Asia-to-India route is tight on August space and there are plenty of small parcels around for vessels to fill out on. Rates for these small lots tend to be in the $60s/t.

Asia export markets are not that lively. A couple of benzene cargoes have popped up, seeking space to the U.S., but there should be an adequate number of vessels around with levels still in the mid $50s/t for smaller parcels. Space can be found to Europe on the dedicated routes from Korea to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, but hardly any space exists to other European destinations. Demand mainly constitutes parcels of solvents, acrylates, vinyl acetate monomer, propylene glycol and biodiesel and rates are largely unchanged.

The Middle East Gulf-India region has been in the midst of the Eid celebrations and demand is not quite as strong as it was. All the same, something like 300,000 tons of cargo was quoted over the week which should mean that the region remains fairly tight on space.

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.

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