Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Asian Aframax Rate Gains Most Since 2005

Asian Aframax Rate Gains Most Since Feb. 2005 on Yearend Demand
By Katherine Espina
Dec. 12 (Bloomberg)

Asian aframax rates rose the most in two years and nine months, benefiting from higher costs for chartering bigger tankers and boosted by increased shipments for January ahead of the yearend holidays.

The rate to transport 80,000 metric tons of fuel from Kuwait to Singapore jumped 12 percent yesterday to Worldscale 233.75, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The gain is the biggest since Feb. 23, 2005, when the rate rose 16 percent. Shipping a ton of fuel on the route costs $19.94, based on Bloomberg data.

Hiring rates of supertankers, also known as very large crude carriers or VLCCs, on the Middle East to Far East routes have risen almost four percent since November, prompting charterers to split cargoes so smaller ships like suezmaxes and aframaxes can move them. Supertanker rates may extend gains after an oil spill in South Korea last week involving a single- hull vessel increased speculation of more demand for two-hull tankers.

``There is a knock-on effect from VLCC rates rising,'' Takeshi Ando at the tanker team of shipbroker Matsui & Co. in Tokyo said. ``Aframax owners don't like to offer below VLCC rates so I expect this sector will still go up,'' Ando said by phone.

The hiring rate for a supertanker on the Middle East-Japan route rose 5.5 percent yesterday to Worldscale 227.19, advancing more than fourfold since the start of the year, according to the Baltic Exchange's data. A supertanker on the Middle East-Singapore route gained 5.6 percent to Worldscale 231.56, its fourth day of gains.

Winter Demand

Aframax rates on the Middle East-Singapore route surged 4.5 percent last week, bringing gains in the past eight weeks to 78 percent, as transport demand rose to meet fuel needs for the Northern Hemisphere winter and shipowners passed on the additional costs from higher bunker prices.

Five aframaxes, capable of moving a total of 543,920 tons of fuel, are scheduled to arrive in Singapore this week while one with 113,013-ton capacity will arrive next week, according to Bloomberg data. That compares with three last week, with the capacity to haul a total of 309,880 tons of fuel.

The collision between a barge and the single-hulled supertanker Hebei Spirit on Dec. 7 in South Korea spilt 10,500 metric tons (78,750 barrels) of oil, the worst oil spill in the world in four-and-a-half years.

The following is a table of rates to charter smaller tankers capable of carrying less than 1 million barrels of crude oil or oil products on Asian routes as of Dec. 11, according to the Baltic Exchange.

Route Tons Rate Change Carrier
Kuwait-Singapore 80,000 233.75 +11.86% Aframax
Persian Gulf-Japan 75,000 209.17 +0.40% Oil Product Tanker
Singapore-Japan 30,000 312.50 0% Oil Product Tanker
Middle East-Japan 55,000 251.73 +0.23% Oil Product Tanker

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