July 16, 2012 / 5:23 PM / 5 years ago

Transatlantic clean tanker rates stay pressured

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Transatlantic tanker rates for refined petroleum products on top export routes remained pressured on Monday as a slump in demand and a surplus of vessels took their toll on earnings.

Rates for medium-range tankers for 37,000 tonne cargoes from Rotterdam to New York moved on Monday to W90.42, or $723 a day when translated into average earnings, from W90.21 or $902 a day on Friday and W90.63 or $692 a day last Monday, when they slid to a record low.

"The Atlantic MR market saw very little change to fundamentals last week, with rates unmoved at depressed levels as the transatlantic gasoline arb remained closed," broker SSY said.

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. Since then, average earnings have remained volatile.

"The Western market is still a very unfavourable market to trade," broker E.A. Gibson said.

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.

"Whilst longer term prospects remain strong, recent developments have soured near term prospects and threaten to prevent a return to healthier earnings observed during H2 2011 and much of H1 2012 during the remainder of the year and through early 2013," broker CR Weber said.

Typical Long Range 2 or LR2, 75,000 tonne shipments on the Middle East Gulf to Japan route were on Monday at 104.05 in the worldscale measure of freight rates, from W100.59 on Friday and W97.82 last Monday.

"Japanese naphtha demand has been driving up the relatively small LR2 market," Deutsche Bank said.

Long Range 1 tankers, carrying 55,000 tonne loads from the Middle East Gulf to Japan, were at W119.88 on Monday, from W119.58 on Friday and W122.75 last Monday.

In the Mediterranean, 30,000 tonne shipments ex-Algeria to southern Europe were at W128.89 on Monday, versus W129.44 on Friday and W129.17 last Monday. (Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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