Spot earnings of suezmax crude tankers have reached the highest in about four months, with healthy charter activity in West Africa and elsewhere giving shipowners a shot in the arm.
According to Clarksons Platou, suezmax earnings rose 73.2% week-on-week to $26,700 per day on Wednesday, compared with daily earnings of VLCCs at $13,600 and aframaxes at $14,500.
“The suezmax segment was the biggest beneficiary of firmer sentiment out of West Africa,” Deutsche Bank analyst Amit Mehrotra said.
“This may be a short-term blip as we see available tonnage in the market; however, it provides an important reminder of how quickly—and unexpectedly—spot shipping rates can tighten.”
While Nigeria’s crude exports have remained largely stable at about 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in recent months, Angolan exports are increasing after Total began production at the Kaombo Sul floating production storage and offloading in April, according to Bloomberg’s estimates.
Opec member Angola’s crude exports are expected to reach 1.47 million bpd in June, the highest since last November and up from 1.28 million bpd in April.
Moreover, Bloomberg predicted Asia would reduce crude imports from West Africa this month, suggesting more barrels might be kept in the Atlantic trades that generally utilise suezmaxes.
For other regions, vessel demand in Black Sea and Middle East have also been healthy lately, according to brokers.
And “the Caribbean market has seen a more balanced market, with owners eventually achieving premiums as firmer enquiry started siding with them,” Greek shipbroker Intermodal said.
Many industry officials have expected rising US exports to support demand for crude tankers in general, with geopolitical conflicts disrupting supplies from Iran and Venezuela.
“We expect a significantly improved tanker market ahead. Recent contracts for the third quarter 2019 loading confirm this, showing a clear strengthening trend for our vessels,” Nordic American Tankers said in a letter to shareholders.
“We must remember that political unrest is often good for the tanker market,” said the suezmax specialist.