Prices are firming for older VLCCs as a raft of largely unknown buyers swoop in on tonnage that is expected to be used to trade Russian oil.

Tanker market players said prices for 15-year-old-plus VLCCs have now shifted up into the $50m range, from levels around $38m in July.

But they said the bulk of the buyers, who they identified as linked to Russian, quasi-Russian or Chinese interests, are only interested in purchasing the older and not the younger vessels.