Crude oil tanker earnings on the major Middle East route fell to their lowest in nearly three months as a slowdown in business in recent days battered rate sentiment.

The world’s benchmark VLCC export route from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to Japan <DFRT-ME-JAP> on Monday reached W37.93 in the worldscale measure of freight rates, or $8,142 a day when translated into average earnings - its lowest since June 23.

That compared with W38.25 or $8,827 a day on Friday and W42.68 or $15,142 a day last Monday.

“Activity was very low last week leaving freight rates under pressure,” Arctic Securities analyst Erik Nikolai Stavseth said on Monday.

In January, average earnings reached just over $61,000 a day - their highest since February 2010, before the rally loststeam. Earnings in late May and early June fell into negative territory or the first time since early September 2013.

“While the VLCC market’s present supply/demand positioning does not dictate average earnings at the present low ... the sustained activity lull has been eroding owners’ confidence,” broker CR Weber said separately.

VLCC rates from the Gulf to the United States <DFRT-ME-USG> were at W20.13 on Monday versus W20.63 on Friday and W24.25 last Monday.

Rates for suezmax tankers on the Black Sea to Med route to W65.36 or $11,250 a day. That compared with W64.27 or $10,288 a day on Friday and W62.95 or $8,177 a day last Monday.

“In the Mediterranean and Black Sea, it has been a quiet week with rates little changed,” broker SSY said.

Cross Mediterranean aframax tanker rates were at W83.33 or $8,503 a day on Monday. That compared with W82.89 or $8,311 a day on Friday and W88.33 or $10,730 a day last Monday.

Black Sea and Mediterranean crude tanker rates are still off their peak in January when they rallied to their highest since 2008 as weather-related disruptions in the Turkish Straits raised the cost of transporting cargoes.

Average earnings per day are calculated after a vessel covers its voyage costs such as bunker fuel and port fees.