10 January 2013 07:54 [Source: ICIS news]
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Freight rates of bitumen tankers have risen to a year-high level in January, triggered by tight vessel availability and strong bitumen demand from China and southeast Asian countries, industry sources said on Thursday.
The freight rates for transporting bitumen from South Korea to Nanjing in east China increased by $4/tonne (€3.08/tonne) from end-December to $38/tonne in mid-January, sources said.
Rates for vessels shipping bitumen from Singapore to Guangdong in south China rose by $4/tonne to $58/tonne, they said.
Many Chinese importers have been actively purchasing bitumen, as they expect domestic prices will surge in the first quarter of this year.
The majority of Chinese importers want to receive their cargoes before the Lunar New Year holiday on 10-15 February, market sources said.
Demand from southeast Asia has been growing, as January is the peak season for the region’s construction sector.
A number of Vietnamese importers require their cargoes to arrive before a public holiday in early February, sources said.
Firm shipping demand has resulted in tight vessel availability, an industry source said.
The supply was said to have tightened further when a major Chinese shipowner shifted half of its vessel capacity to the Australian and the New Zealand markets.
It moved to the overseas markets, because there are usually strong storms along the Chinese coasts in January, a market source said.
The limited number of vessels available in the market has forced some refiners to either postpone or cancel their January/February shipping schedules, traders said.
A South Korean refiner was heard to have cancelled its January shipping schedule, while another company postponed its delivery schedule for three February cargoes.
One China-based trader said that this may result in an undersupply of imported cargoes before early February, which may in turn boost prices.
($1 = €0.77)
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