SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


U.S. markets are still uncharacteristically active this week, while Europe and certain routes in Asia are slightly slower.

U.S. Gulf

It is still busy on routes into Asia, but a lack of space in August means that cargoes are hard to fix. Several outsiders have already committed to go on berth in August, one with a cargo of 20,000 tons of methanol from Jose, Venezuela, to Japan, and another with a butadiene cargo. Several large lots of paraxylene have been covered, with more lined up for August shipment. There are cargoes of ethylene dichloride, cumene, butanols and ethanol. A small parcel of base oils reportedly just loaded in Houston for Singapore in the $90s per metric ton, but for Korea the rate should be close to $55/t for 5,000 tons.

Styrene is not as extensive as it used to be into Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, but there are still occasional shipments. Parcels of cyclohexane, acrylonitrile, biodiesel, ethanol and urea ammonia nitrate have been discussed, and rates appear stable for now. A large shipment of base oil to Nigeria is suspected of having fixed on a ship ballasting over from Europe.

Caustic has dominated the trade lane into the Caribbean. Several shipments have been covered into Mexico, and there is a tender to supply 4,400 tons into Trinidad that has still to be awarded. There is caustic into Colombia and caustic up to Port Alfred, South Africa. There is a tender of ethanol into Jamaica and some small parcels have been observed looking to go into Rio Haina, Dominican Republic, including a small parcel of base oils.

Improved demand has caused southbound freights into the east coast of South America to look a touch firmer. Ethylene dichloride in the amount of 13,000 tons was fixed from the U.S. Gulf to Maceio, Brazil, in the mid- to high $40s/t. A similar rate was recorded on 13,000 tons of methanol into Brazil. Several more shipments of ethanol have been booked into Brazil, and there is interest in sending small parcels of orthoxylene and base oils to Brazil.

Space to India remains tight on scheduled carriers, but, as expected, some of the ethanol requirements have caused space to open up on a couple of outsiders. There does not seem to be much call for base oils on the India and Middle East Gulf route right now.


Usually the pace of fixing tends to quicken towards the end of a month, but July has been unusual since demand actually flattened along the North Sea and Baltic route. Fewer biodiesel requirements are partially to blame, as is a reduction in the amount of material that is used in gasoline blending, such as methyl tertiarybutyl ether and alkylate. August has already seen more activity in these grades, so perhaps last week was merely a blip. Base oils have been fairly active in the North Sea, but little is moving out of the Baltic, aside from bigger cargos to Nigeria.

Less demand was reported on the route into the Mediterranean, and some extremely competitive numbers could be found into Turkey for completion cargoes, with low $40s/t being seen, even for lots as small as 2,000 tons. FAME in the amount of 6,000 tons from Rouen, France, to Genoa, Italy, was heard to have gone at around 180,000, while 5,500 tons of aromatics from Gonfreville, France, to two ports in the western Mediterranean region allegedly paid 160,000. In contrast, 3,500 tons of alkylate from Amsterdam to Greece supposedly paid $210,000. Base oils were quiet, apart from term shipments.

Rates are stable for those cargoes that have complex vetting issues, but simpler shipments are seeing some pretty competitive figures. Benzene in the amount of 5,000 tons from Aliaga, Turkey, to Tees, United Kingdom, is thought to have gone for just $200,000. Pyrolysis gasoline in the amount of 6,000 tons from Kulevi, Georgia, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam is about to load in the high $40s/t. There are some requirements that seem to have been harder to book, such as pyrolysis gasoline from Rijeka, Croatia, or benzene from Sarroch, Italy.

Fewer new requirements have been registered in the Mediterranean over the past week. Methyl tertiarybutyl ether has been very slow with just a couple of shipments to Greece and Israel, with another to Spain being taken off the spot market and given to in-house tonnage. Base oils have not been as widespread either, possibly still because of tight supplies.

The transatlantic route is another path where less fixing has been seen. Paraxylene, for instance, was not under scrutiny for most of the week, and only very recently has come back into the market. Pyrolysis gasoline was also intermittent, with some fixtures recorded, but other enquiries melting away. Small parcels of base oil continue to be seen into the U.S. and Caribbean. Rates are largely unchanged.

There is not much space left on the scheduled vessels in August into the Far East, nor is there a great deal of firm business to warrant an outsider coming on berth. The exception appears to have been for a cargo of around 7,000 tons to 8,000 tons of hydrocracker bottoms from Flushing, Netherlands, to Korea, which was taken by a smaller vessel. The challenge is now finding something else with which to fill out.

Apart from some pyrolysis gasoline that was quoted from the Black Sea and Mediterranean, the week has mainly produced small parcels into India and the Middle East Gulf, including some solvents 2-ethylhexanol and base oils.


The mood has been a little more upbeat within Asia as many owners have been able to fix their vessels into forward positions. The majority of ships are clustered around mid-August dates, with the rest of the fleet straddling either side. However, not so much fresh business was circulated through the week, leading to concerns that the recovery would be short-lived. The last few days, however, have been fairly positive in terms of cargo enquiry and might just be sufficient to allow owners to consolidate their forward positions.

Rates within Asia have lifted slightly on the northbound route with 3,000-ton parcels from Singapore to mid-China hitting levels of $41/t-$43/t. Southbound has seen a slight increase as well, with 5,000 tons from Mainport Far East to Southeast Asia known to have gone at $25/t. Base oils have been very slow within the region, and it has been aromatics that have been setting the pace.

Base oil enquiries crop up periodically to both the U.S. and to Europe, but not that much ends up being booked. Benzene seems to be of interest on the transpacific service. The market into Europe looks a little stronger this week. Multiple small parcels of chemicals have been seen into Turkey and the Mediterranean. Cumene in the amount of 8,000 tons from Ulsan, Korea, to Antwerp was reportedly fixed in the mid $70s/t. Vinasses are being worked back to Europe in the high $70s/t, while 3,000 tons of cyclohexanone from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to Castellon, Spain, went on subjects at $105/t. Cyclohexane in the amount of 5,800 tons from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam concluded at $78/t.

Improved activity has been reported in the regional markets, but has been offset by an increase in the amount of open space in the area through greater imports of palm oil and chemicals into the region. Base oils in the amount of 12,500 tons were booked from Jeddah and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, to the Middle East Gulf at $37/t-$38/t, when more usual rates might be in the $40s/t.

Eastbound rates are steady. Paraxylene is pretty active in this direction, and there are plenty of Iranian cargo possibilities. Westbound remains firm, with hardly any space available until later in August. Movements include shipments of ethanol, methanol, mixed aromatics, benzene, cyclohexane, ethyl acetate, glycols and acetone. A ship is believed to have been fixed back into the Mediterranean with base oils from the Red Sea.

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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