London: Crude-hungry Asian economies and US refiners are diversifying the sources of their crude oil imports – to the benefit of suezmax tankers.
During the first quarter 2015, there was a 45% rise in suezmax fixtures from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to West Coast India, compared to the same period last year, according to new research from New York-based shipbroker McQuilling Services.
India is easing its dependence on traditional crude markets, much as China is doing. McQuilling recorded two fixtures from south Brazil to West Coast India during the period.
Fixtures loading in the Caribbean also increased by 48% during the same period. Most of these volumes headed to the US Gulf and east coast Panama, the broker said in a report today.
There was also a 43% increase in fixtures out of the East Mediterranean during the first quarter this year, compared with the same period last year.
Spot rates on the West Africa to UK Continent (WAFR/UKC) trade have averaged WS 90 or ($43,300/day) this past quarter, while West Africa to US Atlantic Coast (WAFR/USAC) averaged WS 88 ($43,400/day). The Black Sea/Med benchmark (BS/MED) averaged spot rates of WS 98 ($50,500/day).
Rates for all these benchmark routes are trending much higher than levels seen a year ago, McQuilling said.
The global suezmax fleet has seen little growth so far this year, with only four vessels entering the fleet. Analysts expect only one more vessel to hit the water before the end of the year.
Eighteen new suezmaxes were ordered this past quarter, according to research from shipbroker EA Gibson today.
Across the rest of the tanker sector, orders were placed for 13 new VLCCs, 19 aframaxes, and five MR tankers.