SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


Rather more activity has been generated over the past week, with Europe and the U.S. Gulf recording an increase in demand. Asian coastal markets improved too, but palm oil shipments into the Indian Ocean have waned.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico
It has become harder to locate vessels that are fully open in the U.S. Gulf in October. There are however a number of ships that can offer part-cargo space, whether into the Caribbean, the east coast of South America, Transatlantic or Asia. In this respect, rates have perhaps weakened, at least into the Caribbean and to Northwest Europe.

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However, should the number of enquiries grow as they have done over the past week then these rates will bounce back again.

Plant stoppages in Europe are encouraging more traders to look at benzene/toluene/xylene to Europe, in addition to the styrene that is already flowing. There has again been interest in biodiesel from the U.S. Gulf and a bunch of chemical and vegetable oil enquiries into the Mediterranean.

Against certain positions, it may be possible to fix 2,000 ton parcels from Houston to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam at $60/t, but if the loading port does not conform to the vessels schedule then this level can easily jump by $20/t.

For those charterers who can afford to hold off until November, there are a number of ships that are willing to ballast across from Europe and still accept these levels, so far anyhow. Well have to see how the market develops this week and whether the pace of demand is sustained.

Rather more cargoes have been quoted across Europe than we have seen for a while. Like rain on parched earth, most are quickly soaked up without any real impact on the market. It will need to rain a lot more before rates change noticeably across the board.

However, there are some routes that may be more susceptible to change, such as Northwest Europe to the Mediterranean, where demand has already been quite strong. Otherwise, inter-Mediterranean markets and routes from the Mediterranean to Northwest Europe look set to remain overtonnaged for some time ahead.

Transatlantic westbound is feeble too, and freights have drifted down another dollar or so.

Europe-to-Asia is still weak. There has been talk of paraxylene, pyrolysis gasoline and base oils looking to move, but it will take more than this to fill all the ships on berth. Europe-to-India looks unchanged. Pockets of space remain on a handful of October ships, but a reasonable number of enquiries for vegetable oil, pyrolysis gasoline and base oils might encourage a few more ships on berth.

China has upped the number of benzene/toluene/xylene imports that it is taking, generating more volume for paraxylene and mixed xylene shipments from Southeast Asia and styrene from Korea, giving a mini boost for shipping within the region. Deep-sea exports have not kicked off however. There have been some tentative shipments of benzene to Europe and the U.S. Gulf, and sulphuric acid is again on the cards, but palm oil exports to India and China eased up, meaning that there is still space outbound from Asia.

India and the Middle East Gulf region appear busy, but there always seems to be a ship in position to take whatever cargo is quoted. It may take some time for the surplus to feed through the system before rates start to show any upwards movement again.

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 directly at or by phone at +44 1207-507507. In the U.S., SSYs Steve Rosenthal can be reached at or +1 203-961-1566.

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