On the 4th week freight rates in the Azov-Black Sea region are keeping the high levels, amounting to $ 40 per ton for a shipment of 3,000 tons of wheat from the Azov Sea to the ports of the Marmara Sea. The retention of high prices is due to the extremely small number of spot vessels on the market and the desire of charterers to to ship as much fee-free wheat as possible before February 15. Among other things, the situation is complicated by the difficult navigation situation in the Kerch Strait, where vessels have to wait in long queues to enter the ports of the Sea of Azov for loading. Given the current situation, charterers are in no hurry to fix the vessels for the second part of February, as they expect a significant decline in freight rates. At the same time, many shipowners are still confident that the decline will certainly begin, but not earlier than the beginning of March.
The shortsea market in the Baltic region is stable with a slight increase in rates. Due to the continuing cold snap, ice-class vessels are in great demand. The most popular destinations for trade remain from the low Baltic waters to the ports of ARAG and Great Britain. Also, considering the active shipments of grain from Russian ports, European shippers of fertilizers, steel and flax are planning most of their shipments in the second half of February, when a quota is introduced for grain and the amount of cargoes on the market decreases.
Most of the Charterers prefer to work end of February or March shipments. A lot of contracts are being developed for the export of fertilizers from North Africa to Europe and from Baltic sea ports to South America. Moreover, there is an active trade of wheat and barley from Russia, Ukraine and Romania to Libya and Syria.
While owners give freight indications for handysizes and mini-bulkers for the beginning for spring, they forecast the growth of rates, connecting it with positive news of coronavirus vaccine and renewal of economical activity.