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Brokers braced for West Africa suezmax rates to ‘freefall’
19.11.2008

Jamie Dale - Lloyd's List - Monday 17 November 2008

SUEZMAX rates in West Africa may go into “freefall” this week, a London broker warned, as the list of available tonnage comfortably outweighed the number of cargoes, writes Jamie Dale.

ICAP Shipping said in its daily report that freight rates for suezmaxes carrying crude from West Africa to the US Gulf would likely drop further this week.

The report said that quoted cargo to the US Gulf was attracting many offers. This would help charterers to push rates down as owners fight to find work.

On Friday rates had fallen to around W120, or $42,896 per day, down from W160 at the start of the week, according to an analyst at shipbroker Riverlake.

The Geneva-based analyst said that the average weekly rate for a voyage from West Africa to the US Gulf fell by 16% week-on-week to W144, or $55,060 per day.

RS Platou reported five suezmax fixtures on Friday for both single and double-hulled vessels. Vitol was the most active in this market, snapping up three of the five vessels, all for US Gulf discharges. Vitol had even fixed an unnamed Gemini tanker for a December 2 loading to carry crude from West Africa to the US Gulf at W130, W7.5 points less than its two November 11 loadings.

West African rates have now fallen W65 points since the start of the month due to a slowdown in US oil demand and production cuts in West Africa.

West African crude oil transported in suezmax tankers to the US fell by 10.2% in October, compared to the same period last year, according to preliminary data from Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit and Apex.

Nigerian National Petroleum said it would reduce November and December shipments by 5%, in line with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ 1.5m bpd production cut. It said it would cancel an additional five cargoes this month and 7.6 shipments next month.

The oil major Shell also said it would halt Nigerian crude shipments in November and December.

While crude oil prices continue to fall, Opec is expected to make further production cuts at its next meeting this month in order to control the price. Analysts have warned that the fourth quarter spike in tanker demand will be dampened and that rates would not meet owners’ expectations in 2009.

Activity was quiet in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The Riverlake analyst said that rates continued to fall, with owners fixing at around W140, or $63,110 per day.

The weekly average rate fell by 15% week-on-week to W153.5, or $72,513 per day, the analyst said.

In the Middle East Gulf, Indian Oil Corp fixed the double-sided, 152,412 dwt, 1988-built Southway to carry 130,000 tonnes of crude to the east coast of India at W95 for loading November 29.

Elsewhere, there was a small level of activity in the North Sea with Koch fixing the double-hulled 159,100 dwt, 2004-built Kaveri Spirit to carry 135,000 tonnes of crude to the US Gulf at W117.5 for loading November 11.


«Sirius Star», l'attaque pirate de trop?
10.11.2008

Dans son rapport d'octobre 2008, l'International Maritime Bureau (IMB) se demandait si la piraterie au large de la Somalie «avait échappé à tout contrôle» et conseillait de naviguer «idéalement à plus de 250milles marins (463 km) de la côte».

C'était encore trop optimiste. L'abordage réussi lundi du Sirius Star, un superpétrolier flambant neuf affrété par Vela International, filiale du géant saoudien Aramco, établit un double record mondial. D'abord, c'est le plus gros bateau jamais saisi par des pirates: 330mètres de long, 318000 tonnes. Il vaut 140 millions de dollars, à quoi s'ajoutent les 2 millions de barils de sa cargaison, soit près de 100 millions de dollars. Ensuite, l'endroit de l'attaque, 450milles nautiques (830 km) au large du Kenya, est «sans précédent», selon la US Navy.

Mardi soir, le pétrolier et ses 25hommes d'équipage (deux Britanniques, deux Polonais, un Croate, un Saoudien et 19 Philippins), étaient toujours retenus en otage au large du port somalien de Haradhere. L'OTAN et la VeFlotte américaine, qui patrouillent dans la région, affirmaient n'avoir aucun plan pour tenter une interception. Celle-ci serait d'ailleurs délicate pour des raisons de sécurité (lire ci-contre).

92 attaques

Du coup, on se souvient que 14bateaux, dont l'ukrainien MV Faina, qui transporte 33 tanks et autre matériel militaire, sont actuellement retenus captifs au large de la Somalie. Le centre d'alerte piraterie de l'IMB a recensé 92 attaques dans la région depuis le début de l'année, avec une très forte progression au troisième trimestre. Hier encore, des pirates ont pris le contrôle d'un cargo hongkongais au large du Yémen.

Les pirates ont leur capitale, le port d'Eyl où les chefs de gangs se pavanent en costumes voyants, dans des Land Cruiser de luxe, exhibant leurs ordinateurs portables. Les rançons qu'ils perçoivent varient entre 300000 et 1,5 million de dollars. Pour le MV Faina, leurs exigences sont passées à 20millions, et le Sirius Star battra ce record. En mer, ils opèrent par équipes de sept à dix avec des bateaux rapides, des mitraillettes K-47, des grenades et grappins à propulseurs. Une fois la proie prise, un «bateau-mère» peut y amener jusqu'à 40 complices.

A Eyl, l'organisation est tout aussi efficace, selon la BBC. Des témoins y ont vu des restaurants spécialement équipés pour accueillir les otages. La plupart des pirates appartiennent au clan Majarteen, proche du président du gouvernement fédéral de transition, Abdullahi Yusuf.

Humiliant

Pour la communauté internationale, l'abordage du Sirius Star est humiliant au moment où deux flottes de l'OTAN et de l'Union européenne sont supposées protéger cette zone vitale, puisque 30% du pétrole mondial y circule.

«La médiatisation de cette affaire va au moins augmenter la pression sur les autorités politiques pour qu'elles saisissent l'ampleur du problème, dit Marc Lecoanet, directeur de Riverlake Shipping à Genève. Jusqu'à présent, il y a eu passablement d'inertie. L'autre conséquence est que les assurances monteront les primes et durciront leurs conditions.»

Frontline, la plus grande compagnie mondiale de superpétroliers, envisage de dérouter ses bateaux pour parer au risque d'attaques de pirates, a déclaré son directeur Jens Martin Jensen à Bloomberg.

Vu l'énormité de la zone à surveiller, une solution serait d'y créer un couloir de transit où les navires se regrouperaient et y seraient accompagnés d'une escorte militaire, suggère Marc Lecoanet.

La poursuite des pirates eux-mêmes est freinée à la fois par le droit international et par l'état permanent de guerre civile en Somalie, divisée en trois régions dont aucune ne bénéficie d'un contrôle étatique digne de ce nom.

Au niveau mondial, les actes de piraterie, qui avaient diminué au premier semestre (sauf autour de l'Afrique), ont fortement augmenté au troisième trimestre. L'IMB y a recensé 83 incidents, contre 116 les six mois précédents. La région golfe d'Aden-côte somalienne en représente bien plus de la moitié.


Desperate owners send West African rates tumbling
20.10.2008

Jamie Dale - Lloyds List - Monday 20 October 2008

WEST African suezmax rates lost nearly W40 points last week as charterers took advantage of some over-eager owners who were desperate to find employment, writes Jamie Dale.

The market was expected to hold steady around the week’s opening levels of W150 for US Gulf discharge options.
An analyst at shipbroker Riverlake told Lloyd’s List that the West African market went into “freefall”. The analyst added that one cargo had even received nine offers.

On Friday the rate to fix a 1m barrel tanker from West Africa to the US Gulf was W117.5, or $31,564 per day, according to the Geneva-based analyst.

Another source said owners’ levels had even fallen to W115 for a West Africa to UK Continent and Mediterranean voyage.
Very large crude carrier rates followed the trend set by the suezmaxes. However, the rate differential remained favourable for charterers to fix big lots, the Riverlake analyst said. “With the drop of bunker prices those levels remain quite decent to owners, at over $40,000 per day.”

ICAP Shipping said in its daily report on Thursday that rates had started to pick up as owners became busier and were even able to pick cargoes.

Fellow London broker Gibson said that rates regained a few Worldscale points on Friday into the W120s.
In the Mediterranean, suezmax owners suffered from a continued outage of crude oil shipments from BP’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Gibson said that “indifferent Black Sea interest” had also helped to keep rates lower.

“The suezmaxes are missing the Ceyhan barrels and rates were down to W135 from the Black Sea,” said the Riverlake analyst. “Slightly more delays in the Bosporus of 48 hours helped prevent the market going lower.”

Shipments from the BTC pipeline will rise to 55% of capacity in the month ahead after production resumed from one of two platforms shut by a gas leak last month, Bloomberg reported.

Shipments from October 18 to November 21 will average 548,571 barrels per day, according to a revised loading programme. The pipeline has capacity to pump 1m bpd. In the first seven months of the year, shipments were scheduled to average about 758,000 bpd.

Gibson’s weekly report said the Mediterranean and Black Sea prospects looked to be improving as interest developed.
Any return in capacity at the BTC pipeline will offer owners some support.
In the North Sea, activity remained quiet all week with the majority of crude barrels being moved on smaller aframax tankers. Rates moved lower in line with the West African market with owners fixing at W110 for a voyage to the US Gulf.

Suezmaxes in the Middle East Gulf struggled to maintain their previously solid stance, according to Gibson, adding that apart from one or two case-sensitive cargoes, rates declined to W135 to the east for double-hulls. For single-hulled tankers rates to the east were fixing at W115, while voyages to the west were around W120.


CITAC Report October 2008
10.10.2008

The latest CITAC Report is now available for download.

www.riverlake.ch/publications.php

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