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.

Suezmaxes set for slow week despite China’s return to work

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List

Monday 2 February 2009

A QUIET week in the suezmax market pushed rates down, with little hope of a rebound today, writes Liz McCarthy.

“For suezmaxes in West Africa there was not enough activity to sustain rates,” said Norwegian broker Fearnleys in its weekly report.

Brokers said that the week had been particularly quiet, with only a handful of vessels fixed in the West Africa and the Mediterranean regions. The Chinese new year holiday was thought to have slowed activity, but the week ended quietly even as countries in Asia returned to work.

Fixtures that were concluded were mostly replacement vessels, brokers said, as bad weather had delayed ships.

“There was so much fixing last week around a concentrated window, it was inevitable that with all the bad weather we’ve seen, that somebody would be looking for a replacement,” said a Gibson broker. He said that delays in the US Gulf and the Mediterranean due to storms had done little to push rates up though, with too many vessels still available.

“If you go forward, there is tonnage available. [Rates] might tread water at these levels for a couple of days, or [they] may even go down,” the broker said.

Rates on the Baltic Exchange’s TD5 route, from West Africa to the US Atlantic Coast, closed on Friday at W78, or $37,000 per day, from W80 a week earlier. Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping put its rates down to W70, or around $31,800 per day, on the same route.

One charterer looking for a replacement ship was US oil major ExxonMobil, which fixed a Gemini vessel for W80 for a trip from West Africa to the UK Continent, with February 14-15 loading dates.

Brokers reported that the lowest rate concluded on the route last week was by ConocoPhillips. The US-based tanker operator took the 147,450 dwt, 2000-built Jag Lateef for a trip from West Africa to the UG Gulf for W68.5, with a February 16 loading date.

“If we get any lower than that, [for] owners it’s just not worth their while to make any money on it, so they just won’t bother,” said the London broker. “We’ve seen the bottom.”

He expected activity to pick up this week as the Chinese would be back at work, but rates would be kept down by too many ships. “As soon as cargoes come in, there’ll be quite a bit of competition and then [owners] won’t be able to push [rates up],” the broker said. He added that if a rise in rates did occur it would happen nearer the end of the week.

It is a very similar scenario in the Black Sea and Mediterranean market, with plenty of tonnage available for the next fixing window at the end of February. “For a lot of charterers, if they felt the market was going to push up, then they would work further ahead. But they don’t feel under that pressure,” the Gibson broker said.

Riverlake Shipping was calling rates on the Black Sea/Mediterranean route at W90 on Friday, or nearly $45,000 per day, while the Baltic Exchange’s TD6 route was W89, or $36,700 per day.

Riverlake Launches New ReTI Design

Riverlake has launched an updated version of the ReTI with added functionality that enables the user to gain further insight into the industry standard index.

The index is the accumulation of all key European oil tanker shipping routes for crude oil, dirty petroleum products and clean products.

With the new functionality the user is now able to choose from two types of graphical display, and also adjust the timeframe to suit their needs.

Today, the ReTI hit an all time low of  598.79, a full 728.93 drop from the all time high of 1,327.72 seen last summer. 

For more information about the new functionalities and to gain further insight in to the ReTI and how it reflects the state of the European tanker market, visit:

Aframaxes fall sharply after flat week of trading

Liz McCarthy - Lloyd's List

SEVERE lack of activity in the aframax tanker market has pushed rates down this week, writes Liz McCarthy.

Brokers reported that the market had been “very flat”, with one commenting that nothing was going on apart from “depressing news”.

Rates have come off on all major aframax routes, with a substantial drop in the cross-Mediterranean sector. Spot rates for North Sea to Continent routes fell by half overnight from $23,750 per day on Monday to $11,000 per day yesterday.

The Baltic Exchange’s TD11 route, from Banias to Lavera, dropped to W107, or $27,800 per day, from W139 a week ago.

“People had been hoping that bad weather would bring port delays, but that has not really materialised,” one London broker said.

Delays in the Bosporus Straits, linking the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, were still at around three to four days, as they have been for a couple of weeks.

The broker said there had been hardly any activity in the Mediterranean and that many broker rates assessments were “pretty much hypothetical”.

A lack of fresh inquiries meant the tonnage list was simply building up, he said. “If you look at early positions, on every day it’s well stocked. There are no obvious thin patches.”

A broker from Braemar Seascope agreed, adding that although there were a few rumoured cargoes in the Mediterranean, none carried any significance.

“Ultimately you cannot move a market upwards without cargo, as you have no ammunition,” the London broker said.

Charterers are holding back from fixing cargoes, possibly so that they can impose lower rates than were previously done, the Braemar broker said.

Fixture lists showed that Italian oil company Eni took the 105,495 dwt, 2006-built Mitera Marigo with a loading date of February 2 in in Novorossiysk to the Mediterranean for W150.

However, the Braemar broker said the fixture was one of the last reported rates but did not reflect what was happening in the market yesterday.

Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping yesterday put a cross-Mediterranean trip at W115, or around $37,700 per day, and a Black Sea trip at W125, or around $39,300 per day.

There have been reports that a strike could take place in the French port of Lavera tomorrow, but the London broker doubted it would affect the market.

“People hope these will have a serious effect, but they will not. They are just little blips,” he said.

He added that Russia’s February loading programmes were yet to be signed, creating uncertainty among owners in both the Black Sea and Baltic Sea markets.

Rates in the North Sea and Baltic region have also come off. The London broker said he had only seen two or three cargoes worked this week. Rates had just slid away after BP took an early February loadingfor W100 and Conoco fixed a vessel for W90.

Persian Gulf Tanker Rates May Extend Slump as Contango Shrinks

By Alaric Nightingale
Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of delivering Middle East crude to Asia may drop for an eighth day amid signs an oil- pricing structure that encouraged sea storage is disappearing and as Chinese Lunar New Year holidays cut demand.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc sold 600,000 barrels of North Sea Forties crude for delivery in mid-February near Scotland’s Orkney Islands to oil trader Vitol Group yesterday, the companies said. The cargo, already on board the tanker Oliva, has been anchored off the U.K. coast since December, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Oil companies and traders kept as much as 80 million barrels of crude on tankers as a so-called contango, where buyers pay more for supplies later in the year than now, allowed them to profit from storing the fuel. The incentive to hold European oil at sea is shrinking as the spread between first and 12th month crude narrows to about $9.30 a barrel from $17 in early December.
The narrowing contango may mean there’s less demand for sea storage, “one of the key factors that has helped to support this market recently,” Gilles Rolland, a director at Geneva-based Riverlake Shipping SA, Switzerland’s largest shipbroker, said by e-mail today. There’s also been an “expected” drop in tanker demand because of the weeklong Chinese holidays, he said.
Reliance Industries Ltd., owner of the world’s largest oil- refining complex at Jamnagar on the west coast of India, booked the tanker Samco Scandinavia at 55 Worldscale points to ship a cargo to the facility. That’s little changed from the Baltic Exchange’s equivalent rate of 55.46 Worldscale points for consignments to Singapore.

Benchmark Rate

The 265-year-old shipping bourse’s benchmark rate, based on Saudi Arabian consignments to Japan, slipped 1 percent to 54.15 Worldscale, its seventh daily decline.
Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate, or flat rate, for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.
Each flat rate assessment gives owners and oil companies a starting point for negotiating hire rates without having to calculate the value of each deal from scratch.
A rate of 54.15 points for a Japan cargo works out at $48,876 a day, according to the Baltic Exchange. Globally the carriers are making $44,322 a day. Frontline Ltd., the largest owner of the vessels, said on Nov. 28 it needed $34,700 a day to break even on each of its supertankers, a 10 percent increase compared with Aug. 21.

Riverlake Group Announcement

Riverlake Group is pleased to announce the following:
Riverlake Holding, the mother company of the group has implemented the following managerial structure effective 1st January 2009.

Marc Lecoanet is the Chief Executive Officer of the Group and Chairman of the Board.

Didier Fert, formerly a director is appointed as Chief Operating Officer with day to day responsibility for the various business units within the group.

Didier is also Vice-chairman of the board. He will together with Alex Cooper continue to manage the Shipmanagement activities of the group, Swiss Tanker Management (STM).

Alex Cooper, formerly a director of RLS Shipping is appointed Group Marketing Officer. Alex will be in charge of marketing the Riverlake Group activities. He will also have a particular focus on STM.

Marc Poyet has been recruited as Chief Financial Officer. Marc commences February 16th and will have responsibility for the Group Finance strategy as well as supervising the Admin-Hr department.

Marc, age 38, has a long experience in finance and shipping. Prior to joining Riverlake he held the position of Chief Financial Officer at ABC Maritime. We are delighted to have Marc joining us and are convinced that he will make a great contribution to the development of our activities.

Captain Edisher Chiaureli, until 31st December 2008 the operations manager of Riverlake Shipping, is appointed as Group Operations Manager effective 1st January 2009. Reporting directly to him are:

  • Chantal Husson, now the Operations Manager of Riverlake Shipping.
  • Captain Jaspal Singh, formerly of V ships, who has joined the group shipmanagement company STM as Operations Manager.
  • Gwenael Barthelemy, formerly head of Total (Geneva) demurrage department, who has joined as head of Riverlake group demurrage activities
Tanya Egger, formerly of our finance department, has been appointed to manage an internal system control. This has now been fully implemented. Tanya has been with Riverlake since December 2007 and was previously with KPMG.

In respect of Riverlake Shipping, a wholly owned subsidiary of Riverlake Holding:

François Can, Gilles Rolland and Franck Petit are confirmed as Directors of Riverlake Shipping.

We are delighted to announce that Patrick Bruas, Gilberto Palacios and Thore Thoresen have been newly appointed as Directors.

Patrick who joined from Cargo Maritime focuses on our African activities.

Gilberto has also joined from Cargo Maritime and will primarily focus on projects and time charters.

Thore, who joined from Nor-ocean, has been with Riverlake Shipping since November 2007 and heads our S&P.

We wish them great success in their new positions. They have the task of continuing the growth of Riverlake Shipping brokerage activities and together with the rest of the management team further developing and strengthening Riverlake Group.

For any questions or further information please contact:
Marc Lecoanet
Chief Executive Officer
Tel +41.22/906.79.30
Didier Fert
Chief operating Officer
Tel +41.22/906.79.30
Or view the group website

Geneva 19th January 2009


CITAC Report December 2008

The latest CITAC Report is now available for download.

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