Tanker owners are “dirtying up” LR product carriers to cash in on booming aframax rates.

UK shipbroker Howe Robinson Partners is quoting a trip from Covenas in Colombia to Corpus Christi in Texas at a whopping $199,000 per day for a 70,000-dwt crude oil cargo.

Jens Christophersen, executive vice president of commercial at Singapore-headquartered owner Hafnia, said: “LR2s have already started dirtying up lately.”

He told a conference call that at least 11 — and up to as many as 18 — clean vessels have now started trading in crude.

“The motivation is quite clear, when you look at the aframax market in the US Gulf, just to name one,” Christophersen said.

LR2s are only earning towards $60,000 per day in contrast to their crude cousins.

“The motivation to change is quite high now,” Christophersen said. “We expect this is a trade that will continue for a little while.”

As for Hafnia, Christophersen said the company’s presence in LR2s is not massive at the moment.

“We will keep ships clean, but will always consider [a switch] if the right opportunity comes along,” he said.

Christophersen also told the call that the majority of the effect has yet to be seen on the market from the European Union’s ban on Russian oil products.

Busy months ahead

He said 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of products have been moving from Russia to the EU and UK.

But this figure in November is so far at almost 1m bpd per day.

“Russia is exporting as much as it possibly can ahead of 5 February, so it looks like we will have some busy months ahead of us,” Christophersen said.

“And from then onwards we will have quite a dramatic change in trading patterns.”