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Asian tanker rates hover near 11-month lows

Singapore: Rates for crude tankers on key Asian freight routes are likely to hover near 11-month lows this week as ample tonnage outweighs strong Chinese demand, shipbrokers said.For refined products, rates are expected to tumble to fresh 2010 lows despite renewed interest in chartering tankers for floating storage.Rates for 260,000-tonne crude tankers from West Africa to China fell to W52.11 from W55.32 last week.The market has hovered near 11-month lows since early September despite strong demand from China. The world's most populous country imported a record 5.67 million barrels per day of crude oil last month, a third more than a year earlier.''It's clearly negative that we are seeing VLCC rates at present below operating levels and vessel availability at all-time highs when imports to China are this strong,'' said Wilhelm Gedde-Dahl, shipping analyst at Pareto Securities.The world's benchmark Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) export route from the Middle East to Japan edged higher on Monday to W45.58 or $4,081 a day, from W44.32 or $3,257 a day last week.Asian demand for Middle East crude remained weak with only 80 VLCCs booked for October so far, down from 83 during the same period last month, said broker firm Meiwa International.''Despite end (of the month) activity in the Middle East, tonnage supply is enabling charterers to maintain the status quo as rates continue to scrape along the bottom,'' said broker ICAP.BP booked a 270,000-tonne VLCC tanker to Asia, loading at the end of the month from the Middle East, for W45. [21/10/10]

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