SSY Base Oil Shipping Report


European markets have registered an increase in demand both locally and into Asia. U.S. Gulf is busy to Asia, but less so on other key routes. Asian markets continue to be active.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico
Space on the U.S. Gulf-to-Far East route has virtually all gone for November. Some owners are seeing how they can draft in additional ships onto this service, or free up space in order to meet some of the demand. There have even been ships willing to ballast across from Europe in the hope of ensuring the all important November loading window.

Notionally, rates are around $50 per ton for 5,000 ton cargoes from the U.S. Gulf to main ports in the Far East, but in practice finding a candidate may result in a bill closer to $60 to $65/t. The situation is easier in December, when more ships are due on berth.

Little is happening to Northwest Europe, and rates have subsided from the mid $40s/t to low $40s/t for 5,000 ton cargoes from the U.S. Gulf to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam. It is a different picture into the Mediterranean, however, and unless the cargo is larger than 10,000 tons it will be difficult to secure November space.

Reasonable spot market demand coupled with strong contractual demand mean that U.S. Gulf to the Caribbean is tight for November loading, but looking forward into December there is an expectation that contractual demand will sag, leaving more open space for spot market business.

Finding ships with space from the U.S. Gulf to the east coast of South America is fairly easy, and we would expect to see freights of $40 to $45/t for 3,000 tons of base oils from Houston to northern Brazil.

U.S. Gulf-to-India is an active route, and again, little space can be found here on scheduled carriers in November. We are seeing requirements to ship base oils on this service and anticipate levels of low $80s/t for 5,000 tons from Houston to Mumbai.

It has been a brighter picture on the intra-European market over the past week, at least in terms of new business quoted. There is nevertheless the legacy of many open ships, often in very prompt positions to overcome. The additional trade will permit some to fix towards the end of November and others into December, but it will need several more weeks of sustained activity if all the vessels are to secure good employment. For the time-being, we do not see any upwards pressure on rates. Indeed, most rates are still at rock-bottom levels.

Europe-to-Asia saw an increase in the amount of chemical business quoted, along with some demand for base oils, acids, molasses and solvents. November space is thinning, but there are still good opportunities to latch onto December tonnage.

Europe-to-India and the Middle East Gulf is a bit busier, but not all ships have been successful in filling up, which leaves some interesting part-cargo possibilities for those charterers who can firm up prompt cargoes. A 5,000 ton cargo from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to the west coast of India could be got at close to $60/t for example.

Transatlantic westbound is generally quiet. Some traders have managed to fix the occasional pygas cargo, and there has been interest shown in benzene from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to the U.S. Gulf, but there is no shortage of space and freights mirror those of last week.

Coastal markets in and around Asia are flourishing with reasonable levels of demand. Clean petroleum tends to pick up at this time of year and is one of the main drivers, along with steady demand for palm oils, base oils and chemicals.

The trade in chemicals into India is not bad either, and we would expect 5,000 tons of base oils from Southeast Asia to the west coast of India to yield figures around $30/t.

Deep-sea trades out of Asia to Europe and the United States are comfortable with steady volumes of contract cargoes. Markets from India and the Middle East Gulf are also quite lively, and rates have picked up slightly. From the Middle East Gulf to Turkey, 5,000 tons of base oils would probably now cost in the mid-to-high $40s/t.

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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