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July 31, 2019

Volume 3 Issue 4

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SSY Base Oil Shipping Report

The U.S. market is not overtly strong, yet vessels are quietly fixed away and at rates that are not especially competitive. The European coastal market is making steady progress, but deep-sea is slow. Asian markets are rather slow all around.

Americas

Methanol has been rather active along the Caribbean route, with several larger requirements circulated for August, including 25,000 tons to 30,000 tons from Point Lisas, Trinidad and Tobago, to the east coast of Mexico and U.S. Atlantic Coast for August 20-30, while others have been quoting another large lot into the Mississippi for mid-August. Details on various ethanol and caustic shipments have still to be clarified.

Several shipments of ethanol were confirmed taking place from the U.S. Gulf into Brazil. Paraxylene to Suape, Brazil, in August will account for a couple of ships too. A couple of ships were fixed with caustic and ethylene dichloride into Brazil with further requirements quoted, while an interesting 3000 tons to 12,000 tons of monoethylene glycol was quoted from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Suape and Campana, Argentina, for August 5-10, perhaps as an alternative for the requirement that had been quoted from Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, to these ports.

It has been a busy week eastbound. Traders have renewed their interest in styrene back to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam from various ports in the U.S. Gulf. Styrene is also being quoted into the East Mediterranean. The 4,000 tons to 5,000 tons of caustic from Freeport, Louisiana, to Antwerp that was quoted the previous week is still believed to be around. Ten thousand tons to 20,000 tons of caustic was also quoted from Freeport or Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Genoa, Italy; Ravenna, Italy; and Limas, Portugal. Several cargoes of ethylene dichloride are known to have fixed from the U.S. Gulf to Barcelona, Spain, and Tarragona, Spain, while glycols were booked from the U.S. Gulf to Turkey.

Ethanol continues to get fixed from the west coast of South America and the west coast of Central America, and several shipments of ethanol were seemingly booked from the U.S. Gulf to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam with a couple more parcels still pending. Methanol has been very active with several larger cargoes fixed into the Mediterranean, with at least one more being worked from Jose, Venezuela, for August. A further 6,000 tons of used cooking oil was covered from the U.S. Atlantic Coast to the United Kingdom for the second half of August. Palm oil is being evaluated from the Caribbean to Continental Europe in sizes up to 35,000 tons.

Methanol is providing employment opportunities currently along the Asia route, with several large cargoes being discussed for August shipment. Ethanol too has seen some activity, with small parcels noted to places like Vietnam, and some larger lots to the Philippines. Twenty-eight thousand tons of tallow and used cooking oil was mentioned from Houston, Texas, to Singapore for the second half of August. Styrene has however gone quiet. August space is readily available for typical parcels of 5,000 tons.

Several traders have entered the India and Middle East Gulf market to ship 15,000-to-20,000-ton quantities of ethanol to India from the U.S. Gulf for the second half of August or the first half of September. Five thousand tons of styrene was also circulated from Houston to the west coast of India. The base oils from Paulsboro, New Jersey., to India for August are not yet firm.

Europe

For a summer market, July was a satisfactory month along the North Sea and Baltic route, according to owners. Spot volumes have been fairly consistent, whereas some owners feel that contractual demand is a little lower. Six thousand tons of C7 from Dunkirk, France, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam was evidently booked at €90,000, which is a little less than previously, and reflects the feeling in the market that spot rates are under pressure, even though the amount of prompt space is minimal. Ethanol and biofuels have been pretty busy on the spot side of things, and a few more aromatics have surfaced out of the Baltic, including benzene and pyrolysis gasoline from Liepaja, Latvia.

Cargo volumes southbound are generally keeping pace with the amount of vessel space available meaning that rates are stable. Caustic has again been busy with cargoes fixed into Ravenna, Italy; Genoa, Italy; Naples, Italy; Bilbao, Spain; Setubal, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Cartagena, Spain; Livorno, Italy; and Palermo, Italy. Biodiesel has provided some useful opportunities, including 5,000 tons that was fixed from Stanlow, England, to Huelva, Spain, and 5,000 tons from Rotterdam to Taranto, Italy, that yielded $230,000. Fourteen thousand tons of base oils from Rotterdam to Valencia, Spain, saw a low of interest from owners with larger vessels. Two thousand five hundred tons of base oils Le Havre, France, to Alexandria, Egypt, were tentatively booked.

Sustained demand northbound has meant there is not a lot of idle space around. Pyrolysis gasoline has been noted from Aliaga, Turkey; Augusta, Italy; and Berre, France. Three thousand tons of benzene from Lavera, France, to Aveiro, Portugal, was booked, with the next lifting slated for August 2-8. Two thousand tons of acrylonitrile was noted from Aliaga to Barreiro, Portugal. Four thousand tons of base oils are believed fixed from Algeciras, Spain, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, and 5,000 tons of base oils from Kavkaz, Russia, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam remain uncovered. Five thousand tons of biodiesel was seen from Varna, Bulgaria, to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, and several shipments of light cycle oil and naphtha were seen from Constanza, Romania. Seven thousand tons of caustic fixed from Fos, France, to the west coast of the U.K.

Prompt space is not that readily available within the Mediterranean. Two thousand six hundred tons of vegetable oil from Yeisk, Russia, to Cartagena, Spain, seemingly paid $200,000. Five thousand tons of benzene fixed from Sarroch, Italy, to Huelva, Spain. A couple of interesting exports occurred from Turkey, including a shipment of wax to Villagarcia, Spain, and 2,000 tons of ethanol to Huelva. Base oils were booked from Livorno, Italy, to Mohammedia, Morocco, and a couple of base oil shipments were concluded into Turkey from Greece and Kavkaz. Base oils were also booked from Spain to Berre, France; Livorno, Italy; Vado, Portugal; Gemlik, Turkey; Ashdod, Israel; and Haifa, Israel.

There is quite a bit of prompt space around westbound, but a requirement of 17,000 tons of paraxylene from Rotterdam to the U.S. Atlantic Coast for mid-August proved tricky to cover and ended up paying $27/t, which is considerably more than the last shipment. Benzene demand has disappeared, although there looks to have been some toluene and paraxylene shipped to the east coast of Mexico from Leixoes, Portugal. Pyrolysis gasoline is also being investigated from Sines, Portugal, to Houston, Texas. Twenty thousand tons of sulphuric acid fixed from Hamburg, Germany, to the east coast of Mexico.

Sixteen thousand tons of ammonium polyphosphate from Sillamae, Estonia, to Corpus Christi, Texas, is believed to have been done, with a further 9,000 tons of urea ammonia nitrate fixed from Heroya, Norway, to the U.S. Atlantic Coast and U.S. Gulf. Ten thousand tons of FAME from Hamburg, Germany, to the U.S. Atlantic Coast concluded for mid-August. Three thousand tons of aniline was quoted from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam to Houston. Eight thousand five hundred tons of base oils were circulated from Augusta, Italy, to Kingston, Jamaica, while 5,200 tons of base oils were seen from Fawley, U.K., to Houston, Texas.

Trade is slow to the Far East. The styrene possibilities that had been attempted required September delivery in China, which would have been difficult to accomplish. Some oxo-alcohols were noted and some acetone seems to be a possibility.

Some of the small parcels that were quoted last week to India and the United Arab Emirates are still around, though the 3,000 tons of hexane from Constanza, Romania, to the west coast of India was covered. Eleven thousand tons of base oils were booked from Kavkaz, Russia, to the west coast of India.

Asia

Owners were all able to fix their ships through into August, and a few fortunate vessels are full until September, but overall demand has been poor between Northeast Asia. Most requirements have been covered quickly, although some methyl isobutyl ketone, acetone and phenol cargoes to China have lingered in the market. Four thousand five hundred and fifty tons of base oils were quoted from Onsan, South Korea, to Jingjiang, China, and 6,000 tons of motor gas was seen from Onsan to Nagoya, Japan.

Cargo volumes are meager and insufficient to fill all the vessels on berth. Clean petroleum is mostly moving on larger vessels. Some caustic and C5 shipments were heard, and 2,000 tons of base oils were quoted from Korea to Manila, Philippines, for mid-August.

The situation northbound is just about the same as in previous weeks. Spot demand is slow, and owners are getting by on contractual movements. Some large lots of methanol have been booked and a large cargo of mixed aromatics went from Singapore to Dongguan, China. A small lot of mixed xylenes was quoted to China and a parcel of tertiary butyl ether was seen from Port Klang, Malaysia, to mid-China. Six thousand tons of benzene was noted from Map Ta Phut, Thailand, to China.

Owners in Southeast Asia trading are finding it is a hand-to-mouth existence at the moment, taking what they can off the spot market to supplement their contractual commitments. The usual pyrolysis gasoline cargoes are still around out of Batangas, Philippines, and there has been a little bit of base oil movement within Southeast Asia too. Clean petroleum in the smaller sizes is sluggish, with even Indonesian cargoes going on larger vessels.

For the time being, most of the benzene that is being fixed Transpacific for August is under contractual terms only and not spot-fixed, and instead, benzene traders are switching their attention to September cargoes. Some toluene too is under discussion from Korea to the U.S. for early September. Demand to Europe consists mainly of smaller parcels of chemicals and fewer larger lots of biodiesel. In terms of tonnage availability, there are quite a lot of small new-buildings around, as well as larger scheduled vessels able to offer completion space.

Business in the regional trades has been reasonable, with benzene especially noted into Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, from India and the Middle East Gulf. There is quite a lot of base oil to be shipped from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, into India and United Arab Emirates for end of August delivery.

Eastbound has been very active, with plenty of large slugs of methanol noted from the Middle East Gulf, as well as methyl tertiarybutyl ether, glycols and some base oils from Yanbu and Jeddah to China. Paraxylene has been very strong from India all month, with something like 120,000 tons fixed in July from Mangalore, India, alone, with further shipments of benzene noted. Cargoes of pyrolysis gasoline, benzene and methyl tertiarybutyl ether have been flowing from Haldia, India, and there have been the usual paraxylene and orthoxylene cargoes from Sikka, India.

Westbound is steady. Three thousand tons of base oils were noted Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, to Greece or Genoa, Italy, and 11,000 tons caustic from Tuticorin, India, to Mombasa, Kenya, and Durban, South Africa, was an interesting quotation.

Adrian Brown, a senior market analyst for chemicals and base oils with SSY Shipbrokers, London, can be reached at fix@ssychems.com or +44 12 0750 7507. Information about SSY can be found at www.ssyonline.com. In the Houston office, Steve Rosenthal of SSY's Chemical Tanker Department can be reached directly at +1 (713) 652-2700 and Jordi Maymi in Singapore can be reached at +65 6854-7127.