Tanker Market Shows Mixed Performance During April
Suezmax and Aframax rates in April continued to outperform those in the VLCC class, with gains of 61% and 28%, respectively. Suezmax was supported by a strong market in the Atlantic Basin, while Aframax was supported by both the East and West markets, OPEC said in its latest monthly report. After a sluggish start to the year, VLCC rates finally saw a pickup of 24% on average in April. However, gains were short-lived dissipating by the end of the month amid ample availability. Clean rates continued to perform well in April, gaining 15%. The market has been supported by strength in the East, as well as rising tanker demand in the West of Suez, amid preparations for the driving season in the Northern Hemisphere.
The latest estimates show global spot fixtures declined in April, averaging 12.9 mb/d. Fixtures fell 2.4 mb/d, or around 16% m-o-m. Compared with the previous year, spot fixtures were down 3.2 mb/d, or about 20%.
OPEC spot fixtures also declined m-o-m in April, averaging 8.5 mb/d. This represented a drop of 16%, or 1.6 mb/d. Compared with the same month in 2021, they were about 1.7 mb/d, or 17%, lower. Middle East-to-East fixtures fell 0.7 mb/d, or 12%, to average 5.0 mb/d. Compared with the same month last year, eastward flows declined 0.2 mb/d, or almost 4%. Spot fixtures from the Middle East-to-West declined m-o-m by about 0.5 mb/d, or 43%, in April, to average 0.6 mb/d. Y-o-y, rates were 0.6 mb/d, or 47%, lower. Outside the Middle East, fixtures averaged 2.8 mb/d in April. This represents a m-o-m decline of 0.4 mb/d, or 14%, and 0.9 mb/d, or 25%, y-o-y.
Sailings and arrivals
OPEC sailings increased m-o-m by 0.6 mb/d, or over 2%, in April to average 23.7 mb/d. OPEC sailings were 2.4 mb/d, or over 11%, higher compared with the same month a year ago. Middle East sailings edged up slightly in April to average 17.6 mb/d. Y-o-y, sailings from the region rose 2.3 mb/d, or around 15%, compared with April 2021. Crude arrivals in April saw gains across all regions except Europe. Arrivals in the Far East increased m-o-m by 0.7 mb/d, or around 5%, to average 16.0 mb/d. Y-o-y, arrivals were 3.6 mb/d, or about 29%, higher. In West Asia, arrivals increased m-o-m by 0.5 mb/d, or 6%, in April to average 8.9 mb/d, representing a y-o-y increase of 2.4 mb/d, or 37%. Meanwhile, arrivals in North America edged up slightly to average 8.8 mb/d, representing a y-o-y rise of 0.5 mb/d, or 6%. In contrast, European arrivals declined m-o-m by 0.2 mb/d, or 2%, to average 12.7 mb/d. However, this was 0.8 mb/d, or about 7%, higher than in the same month last year.
Dirty tanker freight rates
Very large crude carriers (VLCCs)
VLCC spot rates saw further gains in April, rising 24% on average m-o-m, with rates moving higher across all reported routes. However, with ample availability and tanker demand generally concentrated more in the Suezmax and Aframax classes, rates will be hard pressed to continue moving higher. On the Middle East-to-East route, rates rose 14% m-o-m to average WS50 points and were 52% higher y-o-y. Rates on the Middle East-to-West route also increased, up 35% m-o-m to average WS31 points. This represented a y-o-y gain of 41%. West Africa-to-East spot rates rose 30% m-o-m to average WS57 in April. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 63% higher.
Suezmax rates experienced further strong gains in April, rising 61% m-o-m. Y-o-y, rates were 165% higher. The increase was driven by ongoing momentum from market dislocations and security concerns in the Black Sea. Rates on the West Africa-to-US Gulf Coast (USGC) route increased by 66% m-o-m in April to average WS136. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 157% higher. Spot freight rates on the USGC-to-Europe route rose 53% over the previous month to average WS118 points. Y-o-y, rates were 168% higher.
Aframax spot freight rates also showed a strong performance in April. On average, spot Aframax rates were 28% higher m-o-m. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 128% higher. Rates on the Indonesia-to-East route increased 16% m-o-m in April, averaging WS155. However, y-o-y, rates on the route rose 91%. Spot rates on the Caribbean-to-US East Coast (USEC) route increased 41% m-o-m to average WS235. Y-o-y, rates were also 161% higher.
Cross-Med spot freight rates showed continued gains in April, increasing by a further 24% m-o-m to average WS199. Y-o-y, rates were 131% higher. On the Mediterranean-to-NWE route, rates gained another 30% m-o-m to average WS190. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 124% higher.
Clean tanker freight rates
Clean spot freight rates also showed gains across all monitored routes. On average, rates increased 15% m-o-m in April and were up by 77% compared with the levels seen in the same month last year. Gains were driven primarily by improvements West of Suez, which on average were 20% higher m-o-m.
Rates on the Middle East-to-East route edged up 2% m-o-m in April, building on the previous month’s strong gains, to average WS189. Y-o-y, rates are up 59%. Freight rates on the Singapore-to-East route gained 7% m-o-m to average WS223 and were 52% higher compared with the same month last year. In the West of Suez market, rates on the Northwest Europe (NWE)-to-USEC route rose 18% m-o-m to average WS218 points. They were 77% higher y-o-y. Rates in the Cross-Med and Med-to-NWE saw gains of 21% each to average WS290 and WS300 points, respectively. Compared with the same month last year, rates were 97% higher Cross-Med and up 91% on the Med-to-NWE route.
Source: Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide