European demand for gasoil has sparked a big jump in LR2 clean product tanker earnings.

Elevated refinery margins have also contributed to the surge, brokers and analysts said.

The Baltic Exchange’s benchmark Middle East Gulf to Japan route was quoted at $59,000 per day for 75,000-tonne cargoes. This is up $16,600 day-on-day.

UK shipbroker Howe Robinson Partners assessed rates even higher at $65,500, against an average of $13,000 for non-eco tonnage so far this year.

Fearnley Securities said increased seaborne demand from seasonal refinery maintenance, difficulties amidst lockdowns in China and “untouchable” Russian barrels have seen gasoil and finished products, usually bound for Asia, flowing into Europe.

The uncoated aframax sector has been quiet in the North Sea and Baltic regions, however.

Tonnage lists are lengthening, but as more vessels ballast towards the Mediterranean, where LRs are switching back to products from crude, market conditions could improve and reduce some of the current spread between the coated and uncoated vessels, analysts Peder Nicolai Jarlsby, Erik Hovi and Ulrik Mannhart said.

Rate rises were also being seen for smaller MR tankers.

Howe Robinson cited one vessel booked for a 37,000-tonne cargo from Rotterdam to New York at $32,600 per day.

Moving sideways?

This was a rise of 30 Worldscale (WS) points to WS 330, but the broker has its doubts as to how representative this fixture was.

“Given the healthier appearance of the tonnage list, this increase seems more a result of the laycan rather than another swing in the owners’ favour in the supply/demand of tonnage,” the London shop said

Six cargoes remain up for grabs for owners, but Howe Robinson feels rates will remain stable heading into the weekend.

Fearnley Securities said the VLCC marker was still “sluggish” in all areas as lengthy position lists leave charterers plenty of options.

“On the other hand, there might be some relief from the US later this month as strategic petroleum releases start to hit the market,” the analysts said.