Brokers claim the Chinese trading giant has paid $3.3m to fix the 150,000-dwt Nordic Grace (ex-Seagrace, built 2002) for a voyage from Libya to Singapore.

Observers say the suezmax, which Nordic American acquired for $57m in 2009, recently wrapped up back to back voyages with Shell.

According to analysts at ICAP Shipping similar units are seeing day rates as low as $4,300 in today’s market but are fetching around $10,860 on average for the year-to-date.

In a recent research report on the suezmax segment, Connecticut-based tanker broker MJLF said it expects excess global fleet capacity to continue to take a toll in the months to come but believes a shift in trade patterns looks promising.

“While China continues to rely heavily on VLCC tonnage, MJLF expects a markup in suezmax activity given a recent pooling agreement signed with General Maritime,” Donald Bogden, the firm’s head of market research, added in the client briefing.

As TradeWinds has reported, Unipec and General Maritime Corp are in the process of opening up tanker pools that will trade ten of the shipwoner’s suezmaxes and all seven of its VLCCs through a venture dubbed Unique Tankers.

A recent report published by Poten & Partners shows the Sinopec offshoot was behind a whopping 527 VLCC charters but only 87 suezmax spot contracts in 2012. Some believe the total tied to the latter category will soar by year end.