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Tankers: Port delays, congestion push Aframax Kozmino-North China rates above $700,000

Singapore — Frequent port closures and congestion due to bad weather has tightened up dirty Aframax tonnage supply in North Asia, resulting in firm freight rates for chartering vessels in the region, market sources said Thursday.

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The key Kozmino to North China 100,000 mt Aframax route has seen freight levels for hauling ESPO crude break the lumpsum $700,000-mark Wednesday.

S&P Global Platts, for the first time since the launch of this assessment on July 2, 2018, assessed it at $730,000 Wednesday.

China's NPI was widely reported to have provisionally chartered the 108,770-dwt Ocean Trader for moving 100,000 mt of ESPO crude from Russian Far East port of Kozmino to South China basis laycan January 18 at $730,000.

The vessel is scheduled to call the South China port of Yangpu on January 11, according Platts ship tracking tool cFlow.

"In North Asia, the winter weather has led to the suspension of port operations and vessel delays. [This is compounding the] the problem and is pushing the freight rates in North Asia higher," an Aframax charterer said, adding that the freight levels are around the $730,000-mark.

The average time spent waiting for berthing at North China ports of Longkou and Laizhou is around two days, while it's between three and five days at Qingdao, market sources said.

Another market source, belonging to an Aframax shipowner, said charterers have very little choice of ships in Kozmino and are seeing either limited number of offers or none. "No ships were out there," the source said.

With the time charterer equivalent or TCE improving for voyages on the Kozmino-North China route, which is currently around $24,000/day, there are talks of owners showing keenness to ballast to North Asia. This could ease up the vessel supply for loading dates January 20 onwards, sources said.

--Vickey Du, vickey.du@spglobal.com

--Edited by Ikhhlaq Singh Aujla, ikhhlaq.singh.aujla@spglobal.com