Unipec fixes three

Unipec has firmed up three VLCC fixtures at rates that suggest daily levels for tonnage trading in the spot market are starting to gain traction.

On Tuesday Lone Star Platou identified the vessels as the 311,200-dwt Front Century (built 1998), 309,900-dwt Synergy Queen (built 2010) and 319,000-dwt C Nobility (built 2012).

In a market briefing the brokerage said all three of the tankers commanded WorldScale (WS) 42 for voyages from the Middle East to China.

According to RS Platou Markets the figure, which amounts to roughly $22,000 per day, represents a premium when compared to recent lows of around WS 39.5.

In a client briefing the bank, citing recent channel checks, described activity in the Middle East as “steady” but acknowledged that the current flow of VLCC fixtures isn’t rising by leaps and bounds even though it found the terms of the Unipec charters encouraging.

“Tonnage lists look ample at more than 90 VLCCs able to load in Mideast Gulf over the next month, hence the market remains dependent on a steady flow of cargoes to maintain current rates,” it added before noting that the market tends to slow between September and October.

“That said, with no fleet growth and attractive prices for Atlantic crude we believe in continued long-haul West Africa-East shipments to support the market in coming months,” the firm continued in a note published Tuesday morning.

Going forward RS Platou’s shipping team emphasised the importance of oil prices since OPEC may be inclined to “step on the brake pedal” if prices decline but admitted they don’t see this as a likely scenario in the months ahead given what was described as “rising demand forecasts”.