Full stores in UKC leave Aframax list full of uncertainties

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A large number of tankers are currently sitting off ports around the UK Continent and North Sea awaiting discharge orders, with full storage in several locations in the region creating a position list filled with ships with uncertain destinations, shipping sources said.

“There are a heck of a lot of ships with uncertain itineraries. There are around six Aframaxes sitting outside Rotterdam without discharge orders,” a shipbroker said.

“There are ullage problems at Rotterdam and ships have been waiting outside Immingham and Willemshaven as well. The uncertainty of ullage and weather delays is keeping sentiment [for North Sea and Baltic Aframaxes] steady,” the shipbroker added.

Ullage is simply the amount of free space available in oil storage tanks.

A ship on a position list is said to have an uncertain itinerary when the owner does not know the exact date it will be ready to load its next cargo.

Another factor which has added to the number of Aframaxes on the Baltic and North Sea position lists with uncertain itineraries is the various Mediterranean discharge options that have been agreed in various Baltic loading charter parties in recent days.

“Look at where the recent ships that have been fixed have been sent. There are a lot of charterers fixing ships with Mediterranean options, and those ships can’t work any other cargoes until it is declared where they are going,” said a second shipbroker.

Ullage problems and ships being sent to the Mediterranean have therefore combined to restrict the Baltic and North Sea position list in recent days, but there has not yet been a high enough flow of cargoes to help translate this tighter list into higher freight rates.

A busy third decade of November for crude loadings at the Baltic ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga could see this situation change in the coming week, according to market participants.

“There will suddenly be a distinct lack of tonnage when we get to the third decade and people will get very excited. We have a busy third decade for crude cargoes in the Baltic,” said the second broker.

The Baltic-UK Continent route, basis 100,000 mt, was assessed steady at w100 Thursday.

Source: Platts

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