A new benchmark is said to have been set in the VLCC period charter market by a modern ship on subjects to a major European oil company.

Shipbroker SSY said “a significant number” of $54,500 per day was reported for the three-year deal involving an unnamed eco scrubber-fitted tanker on subjects.

The deal is still pending, but would set a new reference point for the sector if confirmed.

SSY also said a 2014-built scrubber-fitted VLCC was fixed for between 12 and 18 months at $55,000 per day to an oil major.

The charters are far outstripping any spot deals available.

The Baltic Exchange assessed Middle East Gulf-to-China rates at $28,600 per day on Thursday, down 12% in a week and 44% in a month.

Shipbroker BRS is now quoting a three-year deal for a modern VLCC with a scrubber at $55,000 per day, up from $52,500 on 21 May.

Brokers reported the 319,500-dwt VLCC duo VL Brilliant and VL Pioneer (both built 2014) fixed for a year at $53,000 per day to ExxonMobil.

The vessels, owned by South Korea’s Global Marine Financing, finished 10-year charters to compatriot Glovis in May.

Clarksons Securities said that despite the rate drop, there has been a positive shift in VLCC spot chartering activity, indicating a recovery from last week’s slowdown.

Supporting rates?

Argus reported China has reduced its oil inventories over the last three months.

With Chinese refinery margins improving, the destocking phase appears to be nearing completion, Clarksons Securities noted.

“Seasonally, refinery operations are expected to improve further in the coming months, likely increasing chartering activity and supporting a recovery in VLCC spot rates,” the investment bank said.

Meanwhile, a Chinese oil company was quoted $42,000 per day for a three-year charter for a 2020-built non-scrubber fitted vessel suezmax. Spot rates are around $48,000 per day.

Aframaxes were less busy, with not much to report on the time-charter front.

On the product carrier side, SSY reported a 2011-built scrubber-fitted LR2 booked for 12 to 15 months at $43,000 per day to a Middle Eastern oil company.

A newbuilding relet from a trader was also fixed out at $55,000 per day for a year.

A spate of MR tanker charters were seen last month.

Deals included a 2023-built unit fixing for 18 months at $32,000 to a US oil major.

A 2021-built tanker was booked for two years, with a 12-month option, at $31,000 per day.