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VLCC rates bounce back

VLCC rates bounce back
VLCC rates have been climbing precipitously since their August slump. Renewed activity in the Gulf, including increased cargoes from Iraq, pushed earnings on the bellwether Gulf/Japan route to in excess of $70,000 a day.

However, there has been no such upward pull on suezmax and aframax earnings, which have remained in the doldrums, albeit at reasonably respectable numbers compared to the crisis years up to 2015.

While this year looks secure, there is concern that substantial deliveries next year, particularly amongst VLCCs with 18.3m dwt due, could upset the balance. Tanker contracting has crept up this year compared to last year, but only marginally. The crude tanker orderbook as of 1 September, according to Clarkson Research figures, was 19.1% of the fleet for VLCCs, 18.9% for suezmaxes and 16.1% for aframaxes

Scrapping has been negligible this year for understandable reasons - a strong market, low scrap prices. Scrap prices for tankers have dropped from nearly $500 a tonne in Autumn last year to just above $300 a tonne now.

Meanwhile, the products markets have not been faring so well with earnings in both clean and dirty markets sliding from mid-year highs.

LR1s and LR2s are earning just over $20,000 a day on Gulf/Japan well below their averages for this year, ditto dirty earnings which are averaging $15,000 a day against a yearly average of upwards of $26,000. Only MRs have just about held themselves level with average earnings around $22,000 a day.