HSFO handy cross-Med freight surges to five-month high on Black Sea fixtures


Cross-Mediterranean dirty handysize freight, the most widely used vessel class to carry fuel oil and feedstocks in the European basin, has surged to a five-month high on an increase in fixtures out of the Black Sea.

Spot cross-Mediterranean freight was last assessed at $8.75/mt, its highest since March 24 when it reached $9/mt, data from S&P Global Platts showed.

Several fuel oil traders said they expect prices to remain at these levels through the coming week.

There has been pressure on freight rates due to unworkable arbitrage economics between the Mediterranean and Singapore.

Suezmax fixtures, vessels with a capacity of 120,000-200,000 mt, loading Mazut 100 from the Black Sea have been broken down into smaller 30,000 mt handysize clips, increasing the number of fixtures for this class.

“[Freight] has picked up earlier than expected, I must say,” one trader said.

Current freight levels have weighed on trading margins in the market.

“West Mediterranean differentials shouldn’t theoretically rise much,” one trader said. “If this doesn’t happen, however, all barrels coming from the east and going to the west will lose money.”

Singapore fuel oil arrivals in September however, are not expected to be short due to ample cargo arrivals in August.

A little over 5 million mt is expected to arrive in Singapore in August, a share of which was expected to roll over into September, traders said.

The latest Black Sea to Mediterranean fixture was said to have been done at 197.5 Worldscale points, 5 points higher than the latest Platts assessment.

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