SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


The United States market is still going strong. European markets are just about all unchanged from last week, while Asia sees both positive and negative developments this week.

U.S. Gulf

Traders have been unsuccessful in keeping rates below $50 per metric ton for 5,000-ton parcels shipped from the U.S. Gulf to Mainport Far East. They have not had to concede big changes, however, with almost all fixtures of this size weighing in at between $50 and $53 per metric ton. Rates to China are more akin to $55/t and upwards. Styrene, paraxylene, phenol, ethanol, ethylene dichloride and methanol are the products that are most frequently quoted, and understandably base oils are nowhere to be seen on this route.

Since there is not much prompt space around on the eastbound transatlantic run, and demand remains buoyant, freight levels are still close to $50/t for 5,000-ton parcels. Styrene is still pretty hot on this route – 7,000 tons from Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States, to Rotterdam, Netherlands paid high $40s/t for example. There has been a cargo of cumene to ship every week so far. Ethanol is being investigated. There is more technical corn oil, more acrylonitrile, a possible cargo of ethylbenzene and a 3,000-ton parcel of monoethylene glycol has been quoted from Port Neches, Texas, U.S. Lysine, biodiesel, vegetable oil and caustic are out there too. Base oils have gone quiet though.

Activity has been sporadic in the Caribbean this week. There have been some small parcels, such as 350 tons of styrene from the U.S. Gulf to Rio Haina, Dominican Republic, that paid $42,000, and there have been some larger lots of sulphuric acid, caustic and clean petroleum. Base oils are not being quoted openly right now. Several ships are available for prompt loading, including a couple of small units that could offer direct sailing.

Business is mostly routine on the southbound service to the east coast of South America. Ethanol is still the primary grade, while enquiries to ship paraxylene, caustic and acetone have been circulated this week. Base oils in the amount of 10,000 tons are looking to move from Houston, U.S., to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a major whose own ships are out of position.

July space to India and the Middle East Gulf looks to have largely been taken care of, and owners are now showing their August positions instead. Traders still have interest in sending ethanol and ethylene dichloride to India.


After last weeks surge in demand, the North Sea and Baltic market looks much more relaxed. Some of the cargoes quoted are half the usual size, compared to last week when quite a few were twice the normal size. The rates are pretty mundane. FAME in the amount of 2,000 tons from Rotterdam to Thames, England fetched 54,000 ($61,915). Base oils have several shipments confirmed out of the Baltic, and several more along the North Sea coast.

Spot markets are busy southbound, however, there are still ships open that have space left for completion cargoes, suggesting contractual demand has dipped. Pyrolysis gasoline in the amount of 2,600 tons from Dunkirk, France, to Porto Marghera, Italy, are fixed around $68/t. Base oils have been moving, but mostly to term customers.

Aromatics are still among the busiest of grades moving northbound out of the Mediterranean, with fixtures noted from Constanza, Dominican Republic, Aliaga, Turkey, Lavera, Italy and Tarragona, Spain, with mention of a parcel from Sarroch, Italy, as well. Base oil demand is represented by a 2,000 tons requirement from Greece to Ghent, Belgium.

There were fewer biodiesel requirements last week along the inter-Mediterranean route, although that seems to be changing again for this week. Some owners have managed to book their ships ahead into August, but there are still plenty of vessels through the rest of July, making it unlikely that rates will increase in the short-term. Base oils are active into North Africa, Egypt and Israel.

There has not been a great deal quoted westbound, and rates remain weak. Pyrolysis gasoline possibilities failed to develop. A 5,000 tons methyl tertiary butyl ether shipment is scheduled for shipment at the end of the month, and 5,000 tons of paraxylene from Rotterdam to the east coast of Mexico paid high $40s/t. It could have been in the $50s/t due to restrictions that limited the number of suitable offers, had not a ship that had space from the Mediterranean been coaxed into offering. The 10,000 tons of hydrocracker bottoms requirement from Flushing, Netherlands has slipped back into the first half of August loading. A cargo of base oils was booked out of the Mediterranean to Cuba for loading the second half of July.

There are no larger cargoes into Asia, so scheduled vessels are able to mop up the small parcels at essentially unchanged rates.

It has been a bit busier over the past week on routes from Europe into India and the Middle East Gulf. Several small lots of aromatics have been sent to both destinations, and there have been quite a few 1,000-ton parcels around, typically solvents to India. A parcel of base oils was discussed from the Baltic to Mumbai, India, and there are rumours of a 10,000 tons cargo of base oils from the Black Sea looking to load in early August, though details have yet to emerge.


A couple of intra-Asia routes are getting along without a monumental amount of open tonnage clogging the routes. Intra-Far East, for example, is seeing a number of possibilities to ship benzene, paraxylene, toluene, solvent naphtha C9, alpha olefins and small lots of base oil, but some of these cargoes are only for shipment later on in July or August. Northbound has a succession of paraxylene, pyrolysis gasoline, benzene and mixed aromatics possibilities, keeping rates stable. Southbound and intra-Southeast Asia, however, seem to be stagnating.

Apart from some relet cargoes, benzene has almost disappeared this week for July shipment on the transpacific east route. There are rumours of August cargoes being fixed off-market, but details are vague. Traders are looking to ship base oils to the U.S. from Korea, and there have been a number of small speciality chemicals parcels, such as aniline, orthoxylene and acetone, the likes of which are unattractive to the larger ships on berth and can command strong rates. Base oils in the amount of 2,200 tons from Nantong, China, to the west coast of Mexico were reportedly booked at $110/t.

Tightness of scheduled space to Europe has given a couple of additional ships the opportunity to go on berth. Aside from some biodiesel, most of the grades are small and command strong rates. Base oils in the amount of 8,000 tons from Korea to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam are suspected to be fixed. Cyclohexane in the amount of 2,000 tons was fixed from Ulsan, Korea, to Antwerp, Belgium at $130/t, while 3,000 tons of cyclohexane from Nantong, China, to Antwerp was worked at $105-$110/t. Aniline in the amount of 3,500 tons was fixed from Jiangyin, China, to Antwerp in the $90s/t. There is still scheduled space from Southeast Asia and 9,000 tons of base oils from Malacca, Malaysia, to Antwerp were reportedly worked in the upper $50s/t.

Chemicals activity remains muted in the regional markets. Linear alkyl benzene in the amount of 1,700 tons from Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to Mumbai was reportedly fixed in the low $40s/t, while 6,000 tons base oils from Al Ruwais, United Arab Emirates, to Mumbai were fixed in the low $20s/t. Eastbound sees a number of aromatics cargoes, but rates are tumbling. Paraxylene in the amount of 20,000 tons from Mangalore, India, to China was reportedly fixed in the high $20s/t. Westbound remains the same. A few parcels of benzene, glycols and cyclohexane have been noted, but there is ample space available.

Adrian Brown is a senior market analyst for chemicals and base oils with SSY Shipbrokers, London, can be reached atfix@ssychems.comor +44 12 0750 7507. Information about SSY can be found In the Houston office,Steve Rosenthalof SSY’s Chemical Tanker Department can be reached directly at +1 (713) 652-2700 and Jordi Maymi in Singapore can be reached at +65 6854-7127.

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