VLCC rates continued to struggle on Friday as a lack of Atlantic basin cargoes caused a build-up of ships in the Middle East.

Clarksons brokers noted that Atlantic deals are "entirely absent", with plenty of tonnage now available east of Suez as owners prove reluctant to ballast ships to the west.

The group's investment bank Clarksons Platou Securities said this can partly be explained by the rising spread in price between Brent and Dubai oil, which has made Atlantic crude more expensive, as it is based on the former.