Product tanker spot rates see an upturn on US Gulf to Europe run

Spot rates on trans-Atlantic routes from the US Gulf have seen a slight upturn for MR product tankers as cargo availability begins to balance with the number of open vessels in the Gulf.

The Baltic Clean Tanker Index (BITR) TC14 benchmark was today assessed at WS 62.14, up by 1.72 since Monday. Trips from the US Gulf to Europe were assessed at WS 75.

Most ships fixed at the end of September and in early October were chartered for local routes, brokers report, leaving a long list of tonnage waiting for cargoes earlier this week and last.

However, brokers say most inquiry this week has been for prompt requirements, where available tonnage is in shorter supply.

Delays at the Panama Canal have stemmed the flow of ballasters coming from the Pacific basin, which has helped stymie vessel oversupply in the Gulf.

“Cargoes working out of the Gulf have finally caught up with the available positions, causing rates to tick up from range lows,” Florida-based shipbroker Southport Maritime said in its market report today. “With canal delays still present, safe positions are few and far between through the end of the month.”

Torm’s MR tanker Torm Caroline (45,000 dwt, built 2002) was fixed on subs to Phillips66 for a trans-Atlantic voyage on October 26 from the US Gulf (TC14) for WS 70, carrying 38,000 tonnes of clean products (CPP).

Things have been quieter on the UK/continent-US Atlantic Coast (TC2) route but the benchmark route has still posted a modest increase in rates. The BITR TC2 route was assessed at WS 93.86 today, up 0.45 on yesterday. Likewise, trans-Atlantic trips from UK/Continent were assessed at WS 100.

The “bland” TC2 market has made round-trip returns less desirable compared to staying in the US Gulf for the rest of this quarter, Southport Maritime said.

Maersk Mississippi (48,000 dwt, built 2010) was today fixed on subs to Shell for WS 100 to carry 37,000 tonnes of unleaded motor spirit across the Atlantic from the UK/Continent (lay date October 23).

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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