Singapore-based tanker operator Elite Tankship has turned to Greece’s Metrostar Management in its latest move to beef up its fleet to take advantage of rising rates.

Brokers report that Elite has fixed Metrostar’s 115,000-dwt LR2 Metro Ionian for 12 months at a rate of $55,500 per day.

The Metro Ionian is under construction at Hyundai Vietnam Shipbuilding and will join the Elite fleet when it is delivered later this year.

The deal compares favourably to a charter deal that Metrostar lined up earlier in May with Unipec that will see the identical sister ship Metro Aegean, another Hyundai Vietnam newbuilding, go on charter to the Chinese company at $55,000 per day.

Sources with close knowledge of Elite’s operations say the Metro Ionian fixture is the sixth lined up by the Mangish Kakodkar-led company over the past three months.

Three of the ships are LR2 tankers. The first two, Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Co’s 112,000-dwt Sea Jewel (built 2013) and 115,000-dwt Jill Glory (built 2023), sub-chartered from Bahri, are trading in the spot market, where the company will also deploy the Metro Ionian.

The other three tankers are all MR2 product carriers.

While Kakodkar could not be reached for comment on Elite’s chartering strategy, market sources said the company is focused on fixing its vessels to Middle East oil majors such as Aramco, Emirates National Oil and Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

“As traders, the spot market is where their skills and strengths are. However, they will allocate assets, be it on spot or time charter, based on their risk profile,” said one source.

Elite observers say the company’s fleet fluctuates depending on markets and how it exercises options.

“Their fleet has reached as many as 25 tankers. At the moment, they have 10, but it could be 12 to 15 within the next 45 to 60 days depending on what opportunities they see,” a close source said.

Eight of the 10 vessels, which also include a Pertamina International Shipping VLCC, are on time charter. Another LR2 tanker is under commercial management while Elite, in a joint venture with Essential Capital, owns the 2006-built MR2 tanker Jade Blossom.