Bullish sentiment in the secondhand market for tankers is spreading from smaller MRs and aframaxes to the biggest class of ships.

VLCCs are rumoured to be changing hands at an increasing frequency. In the latest string of deals reported by Greek and US brokers, major Greek owner Maran Tankers is said to be fetching a remarkable $37m for the 320,500-dwt Maran Andromeda (built 2005).

According to Xclusiv Shipbrokers, the market talk is that the vessel’s buyers are based in Singapore.

Managers at Maran Tankers declined to comment on the information, citing its standard policy not to discuss commercial matters.

The Maran Andromeda is the second-oldest ship in the Maria Angelicoussis-led company’s considerable fleet of about 50 tankers on the water and under construction.

The company has been pursuing a fleet-renewal strategy for quite some time. According to TradeWinds data that includes the Maran Andromeda. Maran Tankers has sold 14 tankers for further trading or scrap since December 2018 for total proceeds of about $320m.

At the same time, Maran Tankers is taking delivery of newbuildings or buying modern tonnage, such as the 300,000-dwt Hunter Disen and Hunter Frigg (both built 2020), which it acquired in June from Arne Fredly’s Hunter Group for about $96m each. The ships are now trading as Maran Mars and Maran Mira, respectively.

Rising values

A $37m price tag for the South Korean-built Maran Andromeda represents a considerable increase from last-done levels for ships of that age.

The Signal Ocean data platform calculates the Maran Andromeda to be worth $35.7m at present.

One factor driving the price above that level could be that the ship is equipped with a scrubber unit, which lifts a vessel’s profit when there is a wide margin between high and low-sulphur fuel oil.

VLCCs have been lagging behind a general market trend that saw smaller tankers’ earnings skyrocket following the Covid-19 pandemic and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

However, Allied Research said in a note to clients earlier this month that even VLCCs “showed a remarkable recovery path during the last two months”.

“Hopes start to emerge that even their rates will be able to reach impressive levels before the close of the summer period,” Allied said.

Secondhand values are further underpinned by stagnating newbuilding orders.

“It is worth mentioning no VLCC order has been placed in the last 12 months, which is the longest period without a VLCC order on record,” brokers at Athens-based WeberSeas said in a note on 5 August.

In further VLCC deals, Saudi Arabia-controlled Bahri is said to be making between $29.5m and $30m for the 316,500-dwt Tinat (built 2002), with the vessel going again to Far Eastern buyers.

TradeWinds reported earlier this month that Greek interests had sold the 310,400-dwt Kioni (built 2004) at comparable levels.

In a deal much closer to the price achieved for the Maran Andromeda, Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines has reportedly offloaded the 311,100-dwt Altair Trader (built 2005) to undisclosed buyers for between $36m and $36.5m.