On the 5th week, freight rates in the Azov Sea region continued to rise. Shipowners’ offers for spot positions have reached the level of USD 42 pmt for the shipment of 3000 mts wheat cargo from Azov to Marmara sea ports.
There are not a lot of spot positions on the market and the charterers are afraid to fix vessels with layсan close to February, 15. They are concerned about the possibility of not completing loading at time before the export quota enters into force.
For the second half of February, many charterers actively fix vessels after the 15th at a rate of USD 5-6 less than the current level. Although there are charterers who believe that after the February,15 there will be a larger drop in rates and prefer to wait and close their cargoes already on the spot.
On the short sea market of Baltic region there is a slight decrease of freight rates. The number of shipments has slightly decreased. This is due to the fact that most grain shipments from Russian ports have already been fixed before the quota imposition.
Inland and southern Baltic ports are expected to have a significant number of opening positions as the January contracts have come to an end. The charterers plan most of their shipments for the second half of February, so the situation in the Baltic Sea market is quite calm now.
February 2021 began with a sharp drop of 0.6% in the Baltic Dry Index. Many attribute this to the fact that Russian wheat exports will soon be significantly reduced due to the quota introduction. Thus, the demand for the Handy, Supra, Panamax vessels will fall significantly in the Black Sea. The decline was also affected by the lack of spot cargoes during the 5-6 week of the year in the Baltic and Continent, as the charterers, hoping for better rates and more vessels, planned their shipments for late February or early March.
For the Handy, Supra and Panamax vessels, it is once again advantageous to take cargo to India and move to the Pacific, as China plans to increase imports of basic goods such as coal, ore, metals, and oil. Already in January, import figures exceeded December figures by several million tons.The desire of large shipowners to move to the Pacific is reinforced by the significant increase in Australian grain exports.