Off-market deals and held-back cargoes are putting downward pressure on VLCC rates.

Rates for the largest tankers slipped $11,875 in the past two days from a year-to-date high of $75,391 per day to $63,516 per day, according to the Baltic Exchange’s time charter equivalent assessment.

London broker Howe Robinson said one cargo garnered 10 offers.

Fearnleys said: “Plenty of deals having been done under the radar/over the dinner table. With a number of oil co. relets pushed and we close in on the quieter 10-20-decade laycans, more downward pressure is possible.

“Charterers have played the ‘off-market’ game very well to remove what was some considerable heat. Big TCEs remain, however, and any major rapid drop in rates looks unlikely, if owners hold their nerve.”

The broker said some strength has been seen in the Atlantic, reflected in Wednesday’s richest VLCC fixture: $164,201 per day for Oman Shipping’s 316,373-dwt Fida (built 2011) to sail from the US Gulf to the UK/Continental Europe in late December for Vitol.

Thenmaris’ 299,227-dwt Seatriumph (built 2017) was fixed to Equinor for $99,106 per day for a voyage from West Africa to the UK/Continental Europe in mid-December.

Howe Robinson blamed the overall dip on a lack of activity, but did identify one bright spot.

“Charterers appear to be holding back to put pressure on the market,” it said.

“We have also been seeing prompter cargoes worked in the West that have enabled owners with tonnage that can maker earlier dates to capitalise.”

It said a VLCC sailing from the Middle East Gulf to China dipped to $95,515 per day from $109,436 per day on Monday.

A VLCC trip from West Africa to China fell to $86,219 per day from $106,611 per day over the same period.