July 2, 2012 / 5:21 PM / 5 years ago

Transatlantic clean tanker rates hit near 3-yr low

* LR market seen steady

* Med rates stay subdued on weak activity

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Transatlantic tanker rates for refined petroleum products on top export routes fell to their lowest in nearly three years on Monday as a glut of vessels and slow business took their toll.

Rates for medium-range tankers for 37,000 tonne cargoes from Rotterdam to New York route moved to W91.88, or $1,672 a day when translated into average earnings on Monday, from W94.55 or $2,362 a day on Friday and W111.46 or $6,180 a day last Monday. Average earnings were at their lowest since late August 2009.

"MR tonnage continued to build on the Continent as enquiry remained lacklustre. Lengthy position lists allowed charterers to place further downward pressure," broker SSY said on Monday.

Earnings hit their lowest levels in a year in November 2011 and have been volatile since then.

In April last year, rates reached their highest since 2008 on a jump in U.S. gasoline demand, helping reduce the number of tankers available for hire.

Analysts said reduced refinery capacity in the Atlantic Basin could boost long-haul demand for the wider products tanker sector in coming years, helped by the delivery of fewer tankers.

"Lower fuel prices will however be good news for product tankers eventually as oil demand should be supported. European refinery utilization, which has been low because of weak margins, could see increased run rates if Brent stabilizes at a lower level, hence this could open up for higher exports," RS Platou Markets said.

"We therefore believe product tanker rates should see an upswing this autumn as refineries increase runs globally to meet seasonally higher demand."

Typical Long Range 2 or LR2, 75,000 tonne shipments on the Middle East Gulf to Japan route were steady on Monday at 95.91 in the worldscale measure of freight rates, from W95.32 on Friday and W91.64 last Monday.

"Plenty of cargoes in the market and rates are expected to at least remain steady for now," broker E.A. Gibs said.

Long Range 1 tankers, carrying 55,000 tonne loads from the Middle East Gulf to Japan, were at W120.42 on Monday, from W120.67 on Friday and W106.04 last Monday.

"The MEG LR market firmed on the back of increased activity," SSY said.

In the Mediterranean, 30,000 tonne shipments ex-Algeria to southern Europe were at W135.83 on Monday, versus W137.50 on Friday and 137.78W last Monday.

"Cargo demand has continued to cool off in the Mediterranean," broker E.A. Gibson said. (Reporting by Jonathan Saul)

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