Aframax rates in the Americas surge

Chartering from US oil major said to have helped firm up aframax market.

Rates for aframax tankers in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea more than doubled today after an US oil major was said to have booked multiple cargoes. But more ships are heading to the market in the coming week, likely taking steam out of the market.

The Baltic Exchange's time charter equivalent assessment for the TD9 route rose to $17,859 per day, a $10,324 jump from Wednesday levels. The TD9 assessment hit a two-year low of $2,654 per day on Monday, but has been on a surge all week.

Chevron was linked to some of the aframax charterings, market sources indicate. The oil major is said to have booked cargoes through several brokers.

The rise comes amid growth of crude exports from the US Gulf with January seeing the highest level of crude exports from the US at 630,000 barrels per day. February loadings are expected to be even higher.

MJLF analyst Court Smith says cargo demand is coming from a mix of locations across the region. The aframax market looks tight currently, but more supply is headed in as open vessel supply is expected to increase beyond 20 February.

"Aframaxes remain tight for certain dates but the list begins to lengthen beyond the end of the month," he said. Charterers are showing interest in panamax tankers rather than the pricier aframaxes, Smith added.