MRs and aframaxes gain from increased Covid measures at Asian ports

Increased anti-Covid-19 measures at ports in Asia are being cited for a recent spike in rates for aframaxes and MR tankers east of Suez.

“With infections spiralling in China, in addition to mounting caseloads at the epicentre in Southeast Asia, authorities in this part of the world have put up a web of requirements for ships calling at their port and terminals to meet,” Braemar ACM stated in a recent tanker update.

This has introduced unexpected delays in schedules resulting in rising waiting times for loading and unloading these vessels.

Rising fuel oil demand from China has helped boost aframaxes with independent refiners seeking straight-run fuel oil as a feedstock for refining.

For MR demand, the transpacific jet trade from Asia to the US west coast has surged since July with many MRs and handies leaving Asia, making tonnage options tight across the continent.

Braemar ACM expects MR markets to continue to benefit from the transpacific jet trade. Jet stocks on the US west coast are at multi-year lows for this time of the year.

The improving product tanker scene east of Suez was also discussed in the latest weekly report from Clarkson Research Services.

“As a consequence of the MR and LR1 markets improving, the LR2 markets are also likely to firm,” Clarksons predicted.

Tanker broker Gibson, meanwhile, said that in the MR space: “All rates have firmed and Owners are really enjoying operating in this bullish sentiment.”

The extra Covid measures, most notable in China, are also tying up ever greater swathes of the dry bulk and container fleets.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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