Aframax rates hit as tonnage rises and cargoes fall

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Wednesday 11 March 2009

AFRAMAX rates have softened following last week’s surge in the Baltic Sea, as available tonnage increases and activity dies down, writes Liz McCarthy.

“Without a doubt there was some tightness through the mid-month dates, which caused that Primorsk number to spike up,” said one London broker. He was referring to last week’s 49% jump in rates on the Baltic Exchange’s TD17 route, shipping 100,000-tonne cargoes from Primorsk to Wilhelmshaven, which reached W111. Yesterday the rate fall to W82.5, or $29,700 per day.

“Once we got through that bottleneck the tonnage list actually presented a much more balanced approach,” said the broker.

The fall in rates in the Baltic Sea was matched in the other major aframax sectors. A Riverlake Shipping broker said: “Despite a brief rally last Wednesday when rates bounced slightly on increased activity the following lull saw rates fall further to where they sit today, approximately 5% lower week-on-week in the Med and Black Sea, and between 13%-19% lower for the Baltic Sea and North Sea.”

The Geneva-based brokerage had dropped its Baltic to UK Continent route rate down W47.5 from last week to W80, or $33,908 per day.

Sentiment in the North Sea was equally low, with brokers reporting very little activity, making it hard to judge rates in the region.

One London broker said he was calling rates in the North Sea at W72.5 and no more. “At the moment rates seem fairly insipid, unfortunately. I can’t see [rates] doing much other than going sideways really,” he said.

The broker added that Spanish oil company Repsol had come into the market with a cargo from the North Sea down to Spain and had received 10 offers without even pushing for inquiries.

The Baltic Exchange’s TD7 route, from Sullom Voe to Wilhelmshaven, fell to W78 yesterday, or $17,800 per day.

Riverlake Shipping cut its rate for the route to W75, or $15,400 per day.

Fixtures lists showed that ConocoPhillips had taken the 105,295 dwt, 1989-built Tove Knutsen for a trip from the North Sea to the UK Continent, loading on March 13, for W87.5. “That’s not a normal rate; it’s either old or a very prompt replacement,” said a broker. The Mediterranean market had been slightly more active, he said.

Other brokers did not share his view. “In the Med there are currently several prompt vessels and not much current activity, which does not bode well for the coming week,” said the Riverlake broker. “If rates are to firm there needs to be a significant increase in activity.”

Riverlake put its cross-Mediterranean rate down to W75, or $16,476 per day, and the Baltic Exchange lowered its TD11 rate on the same route, to W77.5 or $15,400 per day. ICAP Shipping reported a “modest” start to the week in the Mediterranean. It said rates were still under pressure, and that it had seen two quoted market cargoes receive six offers each on Monday.

Swiss International Bunkers (SIB) – Press Release

Swiss International Bunkers (SIB), a company of the Riverlake Group, is a specialist in providing marine fuels and lubricants on a worldwide basis. Recently SIB has made some important changes.

Riverlake Holding SA has sold 16% of its shares in SIB to Omneo Holding AG and Mr Serge Ivanov (SIB Executive Director) has sold 25% of his shares to Omneo Holding AG. Consequently the new shareholding structure is as follows:

Riverlake Holding SA 49%

Omneo Holding AG 41%

Mr Serge Ivanov 10%

Omneo Holding AG (Omneo) is a company based in Zug which was founded in 2008 and is active in petroleum products trading, shipping and distribution through its various operational affiliates.

Omneo is managed by Mr Lucian Budac and Mr Karim Benabderrazik, long time executives in the oil industry, who are also board members of the Riverlake Group. Their extensive expertise in flow management and many contacts within the oil industry will further strengthen and support SIB's activity.

Effective December 2008, in order to reinforce its financial autonomy and its balance sheet, the Riverlake Group has initiated a capital increase for SIB. The former capital of CHF 100,000 has been increased to CHF 1 million.

Independent from short term bank financing, this capital increase allows SIB the opportunity to develop its capacities in the medium-term. The group is confident in its strategy relating to the company's profitability and growth targets, which have been clearly identified.

The Riverlake Group is a Geneva-based shipping services company established in 1985. Through its entities, and with offices in Geneva, London, Shanghai and Rotterdam the group specialises in providing logistical and associated services for the oil & gas industry. Its core business includes ship broking, sale and purchase of ships, research & consulting, demurrage claims, bunker trading, commercial ship management & in-shore/off-shore terminal development and consultancy services for the oil & gas industry.

Please direct questions or requests for further information to:

Marc Lecoanet
Chief Executive Officer
Riverlake Holding
Tel +41.22/906.79.30
Serge Ivanov
Executive Director
Swiss International Bunkers
Tel +41.22/716.59.10
Or view the group website

New Staff Join Riverlake

Further to our previous announcement of the 19th of January 2009, the Riverlake group is pleased to announce that Marc Poyet has joined the group as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), effective 16th of February 2009. Marc will be responsible for developing the group’s global financial strategy.

Marc, aged 35, spent the first three years of his career in a leading ship management company, V. Ships SA in Switzerland as an accountant and financial analyst. He then joined ABC Maritime in Nyon, Switzerland, first as a fleet account manager before being promoted to CFO in 2005. Marc is the founder and partner of a private equity fund “GEM” created in 1999 and is the director of a Swiss family charity “Foundation Rossana Inverni Desarzens”.
Please take note of his contact details:

Marc Poyet   Email:    Phone +41.22 906.79.90

Fax: +41 22 906 79 91 | Mob: +41 78 609 51 89

Suezmax charterers ‘drip-feed’ cargoes

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Monday 2 March 2009

CHARTERERS are controlling the suezmax market, forcing tanker owners to accept low rates in a bid to fix the few cargoes available, writes Liz McCarthy.

“There hasn’t been a great deal [of activity] and every time there has been a cargo, there’s been a number of vessels offering for that cargo,” said a London broker. “Charterers don’t feel panicked. They’re just drip-feeding cargoes into the market and fixing vessels if and when they need them.”

Rates in the West Africa and Mediterranean markets dropped again last week, with very few fixtures listed in brokers’ reports.

The Baltic Exchange’s TD6 route, from Novorossiysk in Russia to Augusta, Italy, fell to W69 or $22,000 per day, representing a seven-year low, having dropped 85% since rates peaked at W419 in July last year. Norwegian broker Fearnleys said that the Mediterranean and Black Sea market had “remained soft and essentially unchanged from [the previous] week’s already low levels”.

Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping kept its Black Sea-Mediterranean rate at W67.5, but the time charter equivalent dropped nearly $1,000 to $24,718 per day.

The brokerage’s cross-Mediterranean rate pushed up slightly to W62.5 or $24,440 per day.

One London broker said rates could improve this week as the number of available vessels was expected to tighten.

Fixtures lists showed few typical journeys within the Mediterranean last week though. “It’s probably because all the [stems] for February had already been covered and people were waiting for their dates for March,” said the London broker.

Indian Oil Corp fixed the Ofer Brothers-owned 149,999 dwt, 1989-built Eastway from Libya to east coast India for $2m, with a March 3 loading date, while ST Shipping took a National Iranian Tanker Co suezmax for a trip from Novorossiysk in the Black Sea to China for $3.5m, with a March 23 loading date.

The West Africa market is not any busier, according to brokers, but ICAP Shipping said that there was resistance from owners to take rates lower. Riverlake Shipping put its West Africa-US Gulf route rate down W5 last week to W67.5, or $30,296 per day. The Baltic Exchange’s TD5 route, shipping 130-tonne crude oil cargoes from West Africa to the US Gulf, is at a two-year low of W69, or $30,400 per day.

One London broker noted that year-on-year worldscale rates should be compared with caution. “The levels aren’t necessarily as bad as they look,” he said. “You have to bear in mind that worldscale flat rate for West Africa-US Gulf went up 30% [this year]. So it is over 30% higher than what W67.5 was worth last year.”

He did not expect rates to drop any lower, and said that an ExxonMobil fixture late last week had reinforced the market rate. The US-based oil major took the 153,019 dwt, 2001-built Zallaq for a 130,000-tonne cargo loading on March 21 from Angola to the UK Continent/Mediterranean for W67.5

Too much tonnage keeps aframax rates on the floor

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Wednesday 25 February 2009

AN ABUNDANCE of tonnage and a lack of inquiry has kept aframax rates on the spot market hovering near record lows, writes Liz McCarthy.

Brokers said sentiment within the market was difficult to forecast.

“The [Mediterranean region] has been pretty dead. It was quite busy on the back of last week but things have come off a bit, and the Black Sea has been quite quiet,” one London broker said.

Another broker said there was little interest for aframax cargoes and he was concluding deals in the high W80s.

There were rumours of some late cross-Mediterranean cargoes before March 5, which could push charterers into paying above current rates, but they would do little to lift the market significantly, he said.

Concern remains that rates for aframaxes transporting crude on the cross-Mediterranean region could return to the record lows seen earlier this month of W70, or $9,700 per day.

“Owners are not really seeing much and charterers are saying they are not going to be very busy. But they would say that, to keep interest down,” said another broker.

The Baltic Exchange’s TD11 route, from Banias to Lavera, dropped to W81, or $15,000 per day, from a month-high of W100 last Thursday.

“The slow IP [International Petroleum week] market of last week continued across all sectors on Monday and Tuesday with rates being particularly affected in the Med and Black Sea,” a Riverlake Shipping broker said.

Another broker described the market as “lacklustre” as charterers held back to put further pressure on owners.

“On the flipside, charterers cannot push the rates down too low as they do not want to [annoy] the owners,” he said

The Geneva-based brokerage lowered its cross-Mediterranean rate from W90 on Monday to W80 yesterday, or $19,616 per day.

US-based ConocoPhillips took the Greek-owned 105,274, 1996-built Ce-Merapi for a trip from Libya to the Mediterranean, with a February 28 loading date, for W88.75.

“I think it will be flat around these levels for a little while,” one broker said. Activity in the Black Sea was set to pick up in the next few days, the broker said. “You’ll probably see charterers coming now for mid-decade Black Sea stems. As rates have dropped it will probably get more active now.”

The North Sea market remained stable as there was enough activity to “tie up” tonnage and keep rates hovering at current levels.

“If these levels of activity continue then we should see rates pick up, particularly in Primorsk where ice-class tonnage is tight,” said one London broker.

The Riverlake broker said the North Sea had been “less affected” by a tonnage build-up .

However, the Baltic Exchange’s TD7 route, from Sullom Voe to Wilhelmshaven, fell to W83 or $13,700 per day, compared with the peak of W359 recorded by the Baltic Exchange in May 2008.

‘Swing in sentiment’ spurs suezmax revival hopes

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Monday 16 February 2009

SUEZMAX rates have been buoyed by tightening tonnage and a firming VLCC market in West Africa, writes Liz McCarthy.

“It’s a sign of things turning around. There’s been a swing of sentiment as things are looking tighter,” said one London broker. The number of suezmax tankers available in West Africa for early March loading dates has dropped, according to brokers, and this has pushed rates up from W65 to W70.

Another London broker said that only two West Africa cargoes were fixed this week. Energy group Vitol took the 159,074 dwt, 2004-built Astro Polaris for a trip from West Africa to the US Gulf for W70, with an early March loading date. US-based Sun Oil took the 143,932 dwt, 1992-built Nisyros with a March 4 loading date from West Africa to the US Atlantic coast for W70.

“I think there’s definitely potential in West Africa for rates because there are a number of March stems that people are holding back on,” the broker said. “It depends how the charterers release those cargoes into the market, because if people all come together and load cargoes round a similar date then rates will spike up.”

The Baltic Exchange’s TD5 route, shipping 130,000-tonne crude cargoes from Bonny to Philadelphia, went up to W70 on Friday, or $31,300 per day.

Last week, rates had fallen from W73 to W69 before picking up again. Geneva-based broker Riverlake Shipping’s West Africa to US Gulf index was down 9% at W65 on Friday, or $27,621 per day.

Brokers said that news of Dutch oil major Shell declaring force majeure on its Bonny shipments from Nigeria for the rest of this month and into March would have little impact.

“It’s an ongoing effect. It’s a constant thing that terminals are being shut down. I’m not sure it will have a really marked effect,” said one London broker. The other broker agreed, and said that Nigerian ports had been quite unreliable for the last year.

The Meditteranean market is a “different story though”, said the broker, comparing the Baltic Exhange’s TD5 route with the TD6 route, from Novorossiysk in the Black Sea to Augusta.

“In that area, the tonnage hasn’t been absorbed. For the Med, I don’t foresee any quick change, there’s still tonnage to fix,” said one broker.

Norwegian broker Fearnleys said in its weekly report that suezmaxes in the Mediterranean and Black Sea area had experienced a strong erosion of rates. Activity was largely absent from the market and available tonnage increased, the report said.

Rates dropped W15 on the Baltic Exchange’s Black Sea/Mediterranean route last week, closing on Friday at W69, or $20,900 per day.

Riverlake’s rate for the same route was down W20 from a week ago at W67.5, or $25,358 per day, while its rate for cross-Mediterranean cargoes was also W67.5, or $29,513 per day. Austria’s OMV fixed a National Iranian Tanker Co vessel from Libya to Italy for W70, with a February 24 loading date. Russian oil trader Gunvor’s chartering subsidiary Clearlake Shipping booked a Besiktas suezmax from Novorossiysk to the UK for W70, with a February 25 loading date.

Too much aframax tonnage keeps spot rates low

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Wednesday 11 February 2009

AFRAMAX rates on the spot market are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future as the tonnage list grows and inquiries decline, writes Liz McCarthy.

“I wish I could say there was light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s just not enough activity to get things moving,” said one London broker. “It’s not particularly inspiring at the moment.”

Another broker said that although a “few bits and bobs” had been concluded this week, the market had remained flat.

In the North Sea, rates have levelled out at W75, or $7,839 per day for 80,000-tonne cargoes from Sullom Voe to Wilhelmshaven, the Baltic Exchange said.

“In the North Sea there were a few ships on subs, but the tonnage list looked fairly well placed throughout the month,” said one of the brokers.

He said he feared a repeat of what happened last week, when ships thinned out on Monday but then there was no business to build up rates.

Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping put its North Sea rate down to W72.5 yesterday, or $12,700 per day, and the Baltic Sea to UK Continent rate was also W72.5, or $26,400 per day.

US-based Murphy Oil took two Aegean vessels for February 18 loading dates at W75, including the 105,302 dwt, 1999-built Aegean Pride for a trip from Sture, Norway, to the UK Continent.

“We’re fixing in the February 18-19 window in the North Sea and there are a lot of ships up there for before then,” the broker said.

He expected the vessels to sit in the area until work became available.

“There aren’t many appealing options at the moment. If you had a more vibrant Med market, you’d see ships ballasting down, but that market isn’t great either.”

Brokers said rates had bottomed at W70 in the Mediterranean market, with Riverlake’s cross-Med rate being stuck for the last four days at W70, or $13,777 per day.

Tonnage in the Mediterranean is ample, with low demand putting pressure on rates, said ICAP Shipping in its daily report.

One London broker said he had 11 ships open yesterday looking for trips, with five on subs. He said there had been a few replacement fixtures, but because there were so many spot ships in the area seeking work, charterers were not having to pay a premium on them.

The Baltic Exchange’s TD11 cross-Mediterranean route fell yesterday to W71 or $10,029 per day, compared with W74 a week ago.

Other brokers were unsure whether owners would push rates down to the high W60s.

“It’s a psychological barrier. If one owner does a W68.75, for example, then you may fall further because you’ve gone through the barrier,” one London broker said.

ExxonMobil chartered the 96,168 dwt Dalmacija for a trip from Libya to the Mediterranean on February 18 at W70. Energy company Saras took the 105,709 dwt Jag Lata on the same route at W70.

New Staff Join Riverlake Shipping

Riverlake Shipping SA of Geneva (a wholly owned subsidiary of Riverlake Holding SA) is very pleased to announce that  Glenn Harrison has today joined the company at it's Geneva office.

Glenn joins the Crude desk and will focus on the further development of our suezmax and aframax activities.

We are also pleased to announce that Thorsten Koch has moved from the Small tanker desk to the Product Desk, Ines Cambon Marrancone has joined the Small tanker desk and Jérémy Costanza has joined the Africa desk as a trainee.

For your records, please note their contact details:

Glenn Harrison office +41229067930
mob +41787780126

Thorsten Koch office +41229067931
mob +41786716343

Ines Cambon Marrancone office +41229067933
mob +41787181657

Jérémy Costanza office +41229067935

The Riverlake Shipping Geneva team now comprises of more than 40 people working in Chartering, S&P / Projects, Research & Consulting, Operations, Time-Charter, Demurrage, Finance & Administration.

For more information on the Riverlake Group and further contact details, please visit the company's website at

Negativity pushes Riverlake tanker index to all-time low

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List - Friday 6 February 2009

NEGATIVE sentiment has pushed European tanker rates so low that Riverlake Shipping’s regional tanker index hit an all-time low yesterday, writes Liz McCarthy.

The ReTI index, which was introduced by the Geneva-based brokerage in May 2007, bottomed at 598 points yesterday, 55% less than its record high of 1,327 points on July 24, 2008.

“It does represent the sentiment of the market. Thus far, we have found that people do agree with what it is reflecting on a daily basis,” said a Riverlake representative.

The index represents 18 major European routes covering crude oil, dirty petroleum and clean product cargoes.

The highs and lows of the index follow the same patterns as the Baltic Exchange’s Dirty Tanker Index, which dropped on Tuesday to 596 points — the lowest level since it started in 1998.

Brokers have reported in recent weeks that the tanker market is not moving because charterers are sitting back and seeing how low rates will fall.

Rates on the Baltic Exchange’s benchmark TD3 route, from Saudi Arabia to Japan, were at an eight-month low yesterday, with the very large crude carrier rate at W38 or $27,180 per day.

“The debilitated state of the VLCC market in the Middle East Gulf continued unabated, and with little interest from charterers in a falling market, tonnage is building up,” Fearnleys said in its weekly report.

A London-based broker said he was unsure how much lower rates could drop on some tanker routes before they fell below operating costs.

There are fears that tanker rates could follow a similar pattern to the dry bulk market, which crashed in the final quarter of 2008.

In October, as dry bulk rates dropped following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and access to credit was frozen, a capesize vessel was fixed for zero dollars per day.

Growth in tonnage sinks suezmax rate hopes

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List  - Monday 9 February 2009

SUEZMAX rates are expected to remain at current levels this week, as growing numbers of available tankers kill any chance of a hike in rates, writes Liz McCarthy.

“There is quite a bit on the [tonnage] list, which will put a cap on rates going up,” said a London-based broker.

“There’s been virtually nothing out of the Black Sea and in West Africa there was only a handful of fixtures.”

He counted nine fixtures that were completed in West Africa over the week, and said the rate to take a suezmax from West Africa to the US Gulf was around W72.5, or $42,500 per day. This matched data from Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping, whose rate on the route was stuck at W72.5 at the end of the week.

Another London broker said that although there was slightly more activity in the region, he expected rates in West Africa would maintain this level due to the amount of available tonnage.

A Riverlake broker said: “The suezmaxes have held up remarkably well... due to a continuing steady flow of activity.”

A rate as low as W70 could potentially be done, said the first London broker, but levels were very unlikely to go below that as owners would refuse the work. “I think they may start sitting it out, which will then mean that charterers will have to pay them a bit more,” he said.

Oil major BP fixed the 148,435 dwt, 1996-built Hellespont Trader for a trip from West Africa to US Gulf for W75, loading in February 26, which was slightly above last done levels.

In the Black Sea and Mediterranean market, even fewer fixtures were concluded, with only six ships taken last week, said the first broker.

The second London broker said: “In the Med there is an abundance of tonnage and I can see levels for Black Sea and Med coming off [this week]. The only thing that has kept it from slipping already is that we have seen weather delays in [in the Mediterranean], in places like Mohammedia [in Morocco] where some vessels that arrived in late January are only going to berth this weekend.”

Suezmax rates in the Black Sea and Mediterranean market remain “directionless” due to a lack of sufficient inquiry, said Norwegian broker Fearnleys in its weekly report.

Fixtures showed that ships were being taken from the Black Sea for W85-W90, but the broker said that this week rates could drop to W75-W80.

Dutch oil major Shell took the 149,995 dwt, 2007-built Aegean Horizon to load a 135,000-tonne cargo in Novorossiysk on February 20, with delivery in the UK Continent for W90.

Brokers said that they were surprised by these rates, as they were relatively high. “The general feeling is that those people overpaid — it wasn’t really in line with the market,” the first broker said.

Some owners are attempting to spread their tonnage by ballasting ships to different markets, said the second broker, as the tonnage list is growing so much in the Mediterranean.

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