By Jonathan Saul
The VLCC market across the world benefited from an active week in the Middle East.
Crude oil freight rates on routes from the Middle East Gulf stayed strong on Monday as continued demand for vessels helped sustain the positive momentum seen in recent weeks.
The world's benchmark Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) export route from the Middle East Gulf to Japan was up at W59.63 or $40,698 a day from W56.94 or $37,607 a day last week.
In a report, Dahlman Rose & Company said: "The market has been quite active around the early January program, and we have seen prompter late December loads earn premium rates."
VLCC rates from the Gulf to the United States were at W37.48 or $14,697 a day from W35.25 or $11,800 a day last week.
Cantor Fitzgerald said: "The VLCC market benefited from an active week in the Middle East Gulf, with 20 plus ships taken for early January loadings."
He added: "As a result, the supply/demand outlook appears more balanced over the near-term, which could give owners confidence to boost rate expectations over the coming weeks, in our opinion."
Brokers said further ships were needed to cover January loading programmes.
E.A. Gibson, broker, said."A good deal is left to be done before the holidays, and there is certainly potential for further gain over the short term."
Exchange figures showed crude oil tanker rates from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean edged lower to W86.38 from W91.00 last week.
Cross Mediterranean tanker rates rose to W111.14 from W105.68 a week ago.VLCC rates from West Africa to the U.S. Gulf were at W60.19 from W59.27 last week.
Brokers said tighter availability of vessels had helped keep rates from West Africa steady.