Rates continued at a low level in the third quarter of 2010 and we did not see signs of improvement in rates during the quarter. Compared to the second quarter 2010 and the same period a year ago, rate levels have improved as the world economy is regaining strength.
The continued influx of newbuildings, limited usage of vessels for floating storage and continued negative market sentiment have influenced freight rates negatively.
In the third quarter of 2010, the net fleet grew by about 2%, resulting in a fleet growth of approx. 4% year-to-date. The significant delay seen in deliveries of new tonnage continued in the third quarter, with slippage for the first nine months of the year of 40%.
MR freight rates were negatively impacted during the third quarter of 2010 as the demand for gasoline in the USA remained low. In late June and early July, a rate strengthening in the transatlantic trading route was experienced due to a combination of the wide opening of gasoline arbitrage from Europe to the USA, disruptions in the Brazilian refinery sector and few available vessels on the European continent. Rates, however, levelled off as vessels having sought alternative cargoes returned to the European continent.For the LR segment, the Far East demand for naphtha remained stable during the third quarter of 2010. However rates weakened, as tonnage was added from newbuildings and the use of floating storage remained at a low level. The weak market for transport of crude oil added to the tonnage supply as no vessels sought occupation in the crude market. The level of floating storage did not change during the third quarter of 2010. At the end of September, floating storage occupied approximately 3% of the total fleet. Movements in floating storage are volatile and impacted by the forward curve for the various refined products