Rates for spot VLCCs have taken a big jump in the right direction as high cargo levels were noted in the Middle East Gulf.

Brokers said this increased activity was putting pressure on charterers.

Clarksons Platou Securities assessed eco VLCCs as earning $12,500 per day, up 24% from Tuesday.

And vessels with scrubbers fitted can add another $15,900 on top of this due to the price difference between low and high-sulphur bunkers.

Reuters reported the price spread can partly be explained by low gasoil supplies in Singapore and a regional shortage of very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) blending components.

Low refinery utilisation in China due to lockdowns has amplified the market tightness in Asia.

However, Chinese crude imports are picking up, Clarksons Platou said, and Chinese refinery use is expected to follow suit, potentially alleviating some of this tightness.

Looking at the forward market for fuel oil, the spread in Singapore is expected to decline from $500 per day today to $200 per day in October, the investment bank said.

Norwegian shipbroker Lorentzen & Co said the crude and product tanker markets will continue to be “super-volatile”.

There is a feeling however that there will be a fundamental improvement in VLCC rates as China comes back with more requirements for Middle East and west of Suez supplies, the Oslo shop said.

VLCCs booked into China

Angelicoussis Group’s 317,000-dwt Maran Antares (built 2012) was reported fixed by Unipec into China from the Middle East at Worldscale (WS) 51.75 this week, or $25,000 per day.

Another Angelicoussis ship and a Frontline VLCC have also been booked from the region into China in the last week.

UK shipbroker Howe Robinson said there had previously been a relative lack of activity for loading dates between 10 and 20 July in the Middle East.

But shipowners remained optimistic and had been holding their ground on rate ideas.

“Tighter dates and less flexible charterers [are] likely to face resistance,” the London broker added.