Freight market on Azov Sea looks optimistic after recent prolonged holidays. Spot tonnage numbers are quite low, which is unusual for the post-holidays weeks, while Ship Owners are keeping calm and not oversupplying the market with their opening vessels. Rates have moderately declined during the long day offs in Russia followed by decrease of cargo orders amount. This factor has been countered by Rostov’s Harbormaster’s ice dues introduction decree as of 4-th of January for vessels intending to call ports Azov or Rostov: now on it is imperative to sustain no less than 1st ice class, which decimated numbers of able fleet for local Charterers.
All in all, current ice conditions in the region are stable. There are no severe delays in navigation ‘in’ or ‘out’. 3-rd week may yet hamper this, as high winds are expected, which may last up to a week and make an impact on local ice conditions. Occurrence of strong ice-drift is predicted, impeding fleet passage through ADSC.
Firm cargo orders with spot laycan dates ex Russian Azov’s ports are few and rare these days. Holidays, Traders’ lack of activity and current commodity inner market conditions, – are among major reasons. Many suppliers find it more profitable to work on domestic market, wherein feedstuff producers and poultry farms are willing to offer higher price than Exporters. Charterers consider that rates shall not increase during the next few weeks. That idea is supported by substantial ruble strengthening, compared to previous year’s end. The bulk of grain flow towards the southern Russian ports is delivered under previously concluded contracts, as of now producers are reluctant to agree on offers’ conditions which Traders can propose. Highest activity is demonstrated by shippers of niche goods, such as bran and meal.
Astrakhan, on the contrary to Rostov, is suffering severance of ice conditions in port limits and channel, wherein situation became more unfavorable during the Holidays and applies adjustments to vessels schedule. Many Ship Owners have decided to reposition their fleet on voyages ex ice-free ports of Caspian Sea, such as Makhachkala and Aktau. Moreover, the sharpest rates decline has been noted on hauls from Astrakhan. Volumes ready for shipment have been thinned out, due to defection of continuous on-carriage of goods, which gives ground to expect further rates decline.