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Tanker Market - December 2015

Source: OPEC_RP151209 12/13/2015, Location: Europe

In November, tanker spot freight rates for both dirty and clean vessels varied. In the dirty tanker market, spot freight rates for the VLCC class were lower than in the previous month across all reported routes. Low activity, combined with ample tonnage availability during the month, drove freight rates down by 13%, on average, despite the fluctuation of rates often seen. The total number of VLCC fixtures in November was lower than the previous month. Suezmax and Aframax freight rates saw growth in November, mainly on the back of high tonnage demand and weather delays witnessed in many ports. In the clean tanker segment, spot freight rates east of Suez dropped by 4%, on average, but went up by 4% in west of Suez.

Clean tanker market activity was thin in November, while chartering requirements were limited in general. The only exception was in clean freight rates for tankers operating on the Northwest Europe-to-US route, which rose by 20% as a result of severe weather delays and multiple replacements.

Spot fixtures
In November, OPEC spot fixtures increased by 1.2% from the previous month to average 11.71 mb/d, according to preliminary data. Higher spot fixtures were seen in the Middle East-to-West routes, which rose by 0.25 mb/d, and outside the Middle East region, where fixtures were up by 0.01 mb/d. Middle East-to-East fixtures were down from the previous month by 0.13 mb/d.

Sailings and arrivals
OPEC sailings increased by 0.26 mb/d, or 1.1%, in November to stand at 24.21 mb/d, supported by an increase in Middle East sailings, which rose by a similar amount – or 1.5% over the previous month – to average 17.60 mb/d. Crude oil arrivals increased in November only at North American ports, while arrivals at European, Far Eastern and West Asian ports declined by 4.6%, 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively, compared with the previous month.

Spot freight rates
In the dirty market, VLCC spot freight rates lost 13%, on average, in November, compared with the previous month, to stand at WS57 points. This drop came as a result of lower freight rates registered on all reported routes. VLCC Middle East-to- West spot freight rates showed the highest drop, reversing the gain registered a month ago and dropping by 18% in November to stand at WS38 points. Freight rates for VLCC operating on Middle East-to-East experienced a similar decline, falling by 15% from the previous month to average WS64 points. The declines in VLCC rates were driven by low activities in several markets, despite fluctuating rates often being balanced with the total number of chartering requirements, which were below the level seen a month before.

Freight rates registered for tankers trading on the West Africa-to-East route also declined, falling by 8% to average WS68 points. Despite the monthly drop in rates, VLCC spot freight rates remain 17% higher than the same month last year.

In contrast to VLCC performance, Suezmax spot freight rates saw gains in November from the previous month, rising on average by 11% in October, compared with the previous month, to average WS76 points, the highest Suezmax freight rate levels seen in several months. The average increase came mainly on the back of higher freight rates registered both in West Africa and Northwest Europe.

Suezmax spot freight rates for tankers operating on the West Africa-to-US route increased by 9% in November to stand at WS85 points, and rates on the Northwest Europe-to-US route increased by 13% to stand at WS66 points. Freight rates for both routes benefited from a decent amount of activity, mainly seen at the beginning of the month while tonnage supply thinned. The active Suezmax market supported rates in many regions, which included the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Delays at Turkish straits and in Brazilian ports added to a temporary increase in rates before dropping as market activity waned and tanker offers increased.

The Aframax class showed the highest gain in freight rates among other tanker sizes in November. Rates rose by 25% and stood at WS124 points on average. The Aframax market was active in several areas, and market activity supported Aframax rates in the Baltics and North Sea. Weather conditions and port delays seen in Italian ports and elsewhere made tonnage availability tighter in an already active market, in addition to vessels being tied up in other ports due to ullage problems. The prolonged transit time at Turkish straits further supported the gains in freight rates for this class. Spot freight rates for Aframax operating on the Caribbean-to-US route registered their highest gains over other reported routes, standing at WS171 points. This was up by 50% from one month before, mainly on the back of delays in the US Gulf, which led to a tighter positions list.

Spot freight rates on the Mediterranean-to-Mediterranean and Mediterranean-to- Northwest Europe routes increased by 18% and 19%, respectively, from the previous month to stand at WS112 points and WS107 points. As seen on other routes, freight rates on the Indonesia-to-East route also increased, although to a lesser degree, as they went up by 8% compared with one month earlier to stand at WS103 points.

Clean spot freight rates
On average, clean tanker spot freight rates showed minimal changes from the previous month, rising by a slight WS2 points to stand at WS115 points. Medium-range tanker activity remained mostly moderate during the month, while the market in several areas was balanced. The only exception was the increase in freight rates for vessels operating on the Northwest Europe-to-US route, due to weather delays in the Caribbean, which rose by 20% compared with the previous month, to average WS122 points. Freight rates for other routes in West-of-Suez remained mostly stable, while clean spot freight rates on the Mediterranean-to-Mediterranean and Mediterranean-to-Northwest Europe routes dropped slightly by 2% each.

East-of-Suez rates were mixed with no increase in activity as the market was quiet, mostly reporting no significant changes. In the East, spot freight rates for tankers operating on the Middle East-to-East route increased by WS3 points from the previous month, mainly because demand remained stable in the clean tonnage market. In contrast, freight rates on the Singapore-to-East route declined by WS10 points from one month earlier to average WS111 points in November, as chartering activity on this route remained insufficient to push rates up.

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