SINGAPORE: Asian Aframax Rates Fall Most in Two Years as Charters Decli

Asian aframax hiring rates fell the most in two years as chartering demand slowed following a pick- up in hiring before the Christmas holidays and the Northern Hemisphere winter.

The rate to transport 80,000 metric tons of fuel from Kuwait to Singapore dropped 6.9 percent to Worldscale 220.42 yesterday, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. That's the biggest one-day decline since Jan. 3, 2006.

Aframax rates on the Middle East-Singapore route have fallen 25 percent since the end of last year. Shipping a ton of fuel on the route costs $22.43, based on Bloomberg data.

``The build-up of tonnage is the main concern, and a substantial boost in enquiry levels is needed to turn things around,'' Oslo-based analysts Henrik With and Glenn Lodden at DnB NOR Markets, said in their weekly report. ``Sentiment for suezmaxes and aframaxes is quite muted.'' A suezmax can move one million barrels of oil.

The demand for supertankers, also known as very large crude carriers or VLCCs, will influence the market for aframaxes, according to Matsui & Co.'s Katsunori Nishikawa, general manager for chartering at the Tokyo-based company's shipbroking division.

Freight rates for supertankers on the benchmark Persian Gulf-to-Japan route have fallen 31 percent since end-2007, according to data on the Baltic Exchange. Rates on the route slumped 16.5 percent to Worldscale 191.47 yesterday, according to data on the Baltic Exchange.

Two aframaxes, capable of moving a total of 211,778 tons of cargo, are so far scheduled to arrive in Singapore next week. That compares with five aframaxes with a combined capacity of 538,257 tons arriving in the city state this week, according to Bloomberg data.

The following is a table of rates to charter smaller tankers capable of carrying less than 1 million barrels of crude oil or oil products on Asian routes as of Jan. 8, according to the Baltic Exchange.

The above are in Worldscale points, which are a percentage of a nominal, or flat rate, for a specific route. Flat rates, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised yearly by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.

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