VLCCs punctuated the week with a 50% rally in rates as the ailing ships continue their steady progress upward.

The largest tankers saw time charter equivalent rates jump from -$8,655 per day to -$4,995 per day on Friday and continuing a rising trend that saw earnings at -$31,681 per day a month ago, according to figures from the Baltic Exchange.

“VLCC charterers quickly moved on to their August program with owners quietly gaining the upper hand,” Gibson Shipbrokers said, noting the trend was “just a steady and manageable incline”.

The broker said a VLCC on the Middle East Gulf to China route improved $7,250 week-over-week to $10,250 per day.

Meanwhile, fixtures published by Tankers International shows improvement in rates for ships loading in the US Gulf, a region where Gibson said VLCCs were “making some promising gains”.

Frontline’s 321,300-dwt Front Endurance (built 2009) is reportedly headed to China in Shell’s employ for $61,043 per day in a deal struck on Wednesday.

The same day, Capital Ship Management-linked 298,998-dwt Agitos (built 2019) was fixed to Unipec for $54,543 per day, also to China.

Thursday saw NYK Line's 311,979-dwt Tateshina (built 2021) fixed to ExxonMobil for a voyage from the US Gulf to UK/Continental Europe for $52,311 per day.

Overall, the Baltic Dirty Tanker Index added 4 points on Friday, and 116 points over the last week, to finish at 1,485.

Suezmaxes continued their recent rally, after finishing last week up 81%.

TCE rates for those ships came in at $62,339 per day on Friday.

The ships started the week strong making big gains over the weekend, jumping from $44,394 per day on 15 July to $54,350 per day on Monday, according to the Baltic Exchange.

Howe Robinson shipbrokers said suezmaxes started the week with firming rates in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, but that Friday was slow.

“However, tonnage lists remain tight across the board keeping rates steady for now with the potential for a further increase next week,” it said.

The Baltic Exchange also reported a rise in aframax rates, with the ships finishing the week at $49,978 per day, having added $1,280 on Friday and $7,915 over the week.