The forced tanker sales of Russia’s sanctioned Sovcomflot (SCF) have stolen the limelight in secondhand markets lately but they have not stilled buyers’ thirst for more such tonnage in a market increasingly skewed in sellers’ favour.

“Activity levels managed to hold their ground for yet another week, with a fair number of units changing hands,” analysts at Allied Research said in a note on 16 May.

“This came in line with the general stronger buying appetite and asset price levels we have been noticing during the past few months or so,” they added.

Some observers such as Eva Tzima, head of research at Seaborne Shipbrokers, detail a lack of product tanker candidates. This results in “considerable premiums over last-dones for every new deal” in the sector, she noted.

Rising prices are creating the first asset play opportunities in the sector for a long time.

As TradeWinds reported on 10 May, serial bulker and tanker buyer Castor Maritime announced its first ship sale ever — that of the 106,100-dwt LR2 Wonder Arcturus (built 2002) for $13.15m.

Castor purchased the ship 11 months ago from Greek peer Eletson for just $9.3m.

Done with LR2 exposure?

Other Greek companies also sold LR2s, with Almi Tankers reportedly grasping the opportunity to offload its oldest two and only LR2 vessels in its fleet.

Set up in 2009 to mark the Fostiropoulos family’s return to tankers, the company has agreed to sell the 114,900-dwt Almi Star (built 2005) for between $18.25m and $18.5m, according to brokers.

In a separate deal, the somewhat smaller 105,600-dwt Almi Spirit (built 2005) is said to have fetched about $20m.

Michael Fostiropoulos is a director of Almi Tankers. Photo: Duncan Phillips

Managers at Almi Tankers did not respond to a request for comment.

The same goes for managers at Turkey’s Beks Shipmanagement, which some brokers identified as the buyer of the Almi Star.

Beks entered the tanker business with a splash in 2021 and its principal Ali Bekmezci told TradeWinds earlier this month he has plans to buy more bulkers and tankers this year.

Crude awakenings

Crude carriers are also attracting their fair share of interest.

Greek-owned First Ship Lease Trust is said to have sold its last aframax, the 115,900-dwt FSL Hong Kong (built 2007), for about $19.5m to unidentified Chinese buyers.

The Singapore-listed company does not discuss commercial issues outside official press releases.

The disposal trend of the oldest vessels extends to VLCCs as well.

NJ Goulandris company Andriaki Shipping agreed to sell the 318,300-dwt Leonidas (built 2009) for $42m, possibly to Sinokor, according to brokers.

Not only is the Leonidas Andriakis’ oldest ship — it is the only VLCC in its fleet of nine crude and product carriers.

The Leonidas has been a good earner for the company, especially after Hess Corp reportedly fixed it for a year in the spring of 2020 at an eye-watering $83,000 per day.

In further reported VLCC deals, unidentified interests swooped on China VLCC’s 299,000-dwt New Spirit (built 2005) for about $33.9m, according to US-based brokers.

Some analysts, however, remain sceptical about what legs the secondhand market has.

“Earnings still hold as a bearish factor in respect to the sustainability of S&P market momentum,” Allied Research said.