North American LPG shipments to Asia may come at a higher price this summer due to multiple forces pressuring the economics of the trade.
Cheaper Suezmax freight rates led to increased employment for US - Europe flows. Will this trend continue amidst a positive environment for European crude imports?
Elevated naphtha exports from Europe supported long-haul voyages in favour of LR2 tankers. Yet, will this trend contribute to uplift LR2 freight rates?
Declining volumes towards the Far East limits tanker demand, but long-haul voyages to India keep VLCC and Suezmax tanker utilisation in balance.
As naphtha continues to find outlets towards the East, LR2 utilisation is on the rise in March, helping resurrect rates from multi-year lows. But widening LPG discounts to naphtha are expected to put a lid on Asia's naphtha imports in the coming months.
The recent drop in US refinery throughput following the North American winter storm has strengthened transatlantic gasoline flows, while exerting pressure on Medium Range (MR) tankers operating in the Americas. But looking forward, the tables could be turned.
The VLCC market share of Johan Sverdrup volumes continues to increase at the expense of Aframax and Suezmax tanker segments, highlighting the demand for longer-haul routes.
The recent bonanza of exports enjoyed by LNG producers such as the US, fuelled by a demand crunch in Asia, has rippled through freight markets for LNG carriers.