High Europe-Asia tanker freight rates defy expectations

16 January 2012 17:29  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Chemical shipment rates from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region remain at high levels despite expectations of a decline in the new year, market participants said on Monday.

Attractively high rates on routes to the Asia-Pacific region saw increasing numbers of shipowners undertake the voyage towards the end of last year.

“Rates on this route have maintained higher levels compared to others, leading more and more shipowners to undertake this voyage,” said one ship broker.

Robust demand for chemicals continues to drive imports to the Asia-Pacific region.

According to ICIS data, a 2,000-tonne parcel of easy chem from Rotterdam to Taiwan currently pays around $115/tonne (€91/tonne).

Many participants expected rates to drop from these levels in January, as the Lunar New Year approaches and activity slows down. 

However, this has yet to materialise and with freight rates remaining at higher levels, shipowners continue to push for increases.

One broker was quoted $125/tonne for a 5,000-tonne parcel of easy chem from northwest Europe to Taiwan, but felt this level was currently unrealistic.

Another broker reported space increasingly filling up on vessels loading on late January and early February dates.

“With greater numbers travelling eastbound, there are fewer suitable vessels available within Europe to undertake this route,” he said.

A similar trend has been witnessed in the US. Rates from the US Gulf to Asia jumped by $10/tonne last week, with 5,000-tonne cargoes of easy chem at $105–115/tonne.

The imminent oversupply of vessels in the region leads many participants to expect a decline in freight rates on the return journey, particularly from Asia towards Europe.

However for now, a strong demand for palm oils in Europe keeps vessels employed at good rates. A 20,000-tonne cargo from Malaysia to Rotterdam was last week reported fixed at $73/tonne.

($1 = €0.79)

By: Neha Popat
+44 208 652 3214

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