Owners of MR tankers have continued to capitalise on high demand from buyers against a background of rising asset prices and strong rates. The tanker sale-and-purchase market has been dominated by this clean tanker class, brokers say.

Trader Vitol has reportedly joined the dash for product tankers with an order for up to four LR2 newbuildings at China’s Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding. The energy and commodity trader, which has a series of LR2s under construction at Hyundai Vietnam Shipbuilding, is said to have inked two firm 115,000-dwt product carriers at the Chinese state-owned shipyard. The deal includes an option for two further vessels.

In this week’s Streetwise ship finance newsletter, Joe Brady looked at investor backlash against several public shipowners who have repeatedly sold equity through the Maxim Group, spurring significant losses. This backlash is being led by Kalle Ahl, a Colorado-based investor who says he lost about $25,000 on shares of Performance Shipping when he was too late to recognise signs that management was willing to let the stock price plummet to achieve its aims.

Meanwhile, Connecticut’s MT Maritime Management and a US arm of Denmark’s AP Moller-Maersk sold off a quartet of 20-year-old MR tankers at elevated prices. Brokers in the US and Greece said MT Maritime has sold a trio of chemical and product tankers built at South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard at prices that show less than $1m in value loss, despite a decade in the fleet of the US owner and operator. And Denmark’s Torm added to its fleet again in a $97m deal for three secondhand MR2 tankers.

Greece’s Evalend Shipping is making a surprise move in the newbuilding market. The company, which recently debuted in the MR segment, has now added suezmaxes to its fleet portfolio. The company has been expanding at breakneck speed, splashing out over $1.4bn at Hyundai yards over the past two years.

European shipping interests remain crucial to moving Russian oil, amid signs that measures to limit Moscow’s profits are not deterring mainstream owners from joining the trades. Nine of 22 vessels loading oil from four key Russian oil terminals on Monday and Tuesday were either managed or owned by European companies, according to cargo-tracking data supplied by Kpler.

Hot on the heels of a hugely successful investment in five aframax newbuildings, Greece’s Atlas Maritime has returned to South Korea to strike deals that bring its total investment in shipping steel since 2020 to a dozen vessels worth more than $1bn. Atlas founder and chief executive Leon Patitsas confirmed an order at DH Shipbuilding for a quartet of dual-fuel LNG-ready, scrubber-fitted LR2 tankers to TradeWinds.

In a comment piece, TradeWinds reporter Holly Birkitt says shipping can celebrate Women’s History Month by ensuring that colleagues, employers, law enforcement and regulatory bodies step up to ensure women’s safety.

And in our Green Seas environment newsletter this week, Eric Martin explores the way that international decarbonisation regulations leave out the ships that may be in the best position to adopt zero-emission tech.

And finally, Taiwanese container line Evergreen is handing out more bonus cash as it continues to reward staff for a record 2022. The owner had decided to pay an extra salary equal to between 10 and 11 months’ pay in the week it announced a huge TWD 367bn (nearly $12bn) profit for the year. At the end of 2022, the group had awarded bonuses worth up to a little over four years’ pay.