No April Forties VLCC crude oil loadings scheduled following second failed fixture

A second VLCC booked to take North Sea crude Forties from Hound Point, UK to Asia, failed its subjects due to delays Thursday, traders said.

“There were some delays on the vessel [Nautic], so [it’s not happening due to] logistical issues,” a trader said.

Glencore was heard to only have one Forties cargo around the relevant dates currently and is not seeking a replacement VLCC, traders said.

“I don’t think Glencore have many cargoes maybe only one,” a second trader said.

The failure augurs a weak Forties April market, with the medium-sweet grade – the largest of the four BFOE grades that constitute the Dated Brent benchmark – buffeted by local refinery maintenance and thin to non-existent exports out of the region.

The Forties spot differential shed 8 cents/b Wednesday, sinking to Dated Brent minus 76.5 cents/b after Gunvor lifted an April 25-27 loading cargo for Dated Brent minus 85 cents/b.

There are currently no VLCCs scheduled to load Forties in April, a rare occurrence, with the over 20-cargo-long monthly Forties programs typically requiring two to three VLCCs exports to clear.

In March the Maran Canopus, Samail, Olympic Loyalty II and Shanghai VLCCs all loaded Forties, ostensibly bound for Korean refiners. However, Asian demand for the grade was heard to be tepid, with the Samail still idle near the Forth of Firth, despite loading its cargo of Forties on March 22.

The Nautic VLCC, which had been reported as on subjects to Glencore to load Forties from Hound Point around April 10, bound for Korea, is currently laden, stationary near Le Havre, off the northern coast of France Thursday.

The Nautic was heard to be redirected to load a cargo in West Africa, though the grade and loading date were not known.

“I think she is now loading West African [crude],” a third trader said.

This follows the failure of the Atlantas VLCC, which was on subjects to Shell to co-load early April Forties cargoes for export to Korea, also due to delays.

“[Failures due to delays] have been happening [recently],” the Forties terminal is not that flexible,” the first trader said.

Shell was reported to have put on subjects or fixed the Al Qadisa, Amalthea and Alfa Italia Aframaxes to load the relevant parcels instead. Both Glencore and Shell declined to provide comment on shipping fixtures.

Source: Platts