Freight rates in the Azov region remain roughly the same as on the 30th week, and now there appears a trend for a further decline on the market. The most likely obstacle to the dealmaking was the high selling price of Russian grain and the lack of significant improvements in the Turkish economy. Many Turkish Traders report that they have not yet signed a single contract for the purchase of new crop grain from the Azov region. Under such conditions, Ukrainian grain is regard as a great competitor to Russian grain: it is cheaper, although it loses in quality; besides, the freight rates from the Ukrainian ports of the Black Sea are much lower than the Azov ones.
August will be difficult for Owners on the Azov market. One of the key reasons for that is Kurban Bayram in Turkey, which is the main receiver of grain from Azov. In addition to the business activity decay, there is a risk that vessels will not be discharged during this period. As a result, a significant amount of tonnage will open almost at the same time. It is fair to assume that the rates will fall even lower, and the level of freight rate for voyage from Yeisk to Samsun will be less than USD 20. Growth of rates should be expected in the second half of the 34th week and on the 35th week. In such circumstances, there appears a great demand for long-distance voyages from Owners’ side. Firstly, these voyages will help to wait through the instability on the market, and secondly, they would avoid idleness at Turkish ports during Kurban Bayram.
Judging by the number of requests, after a calm period in the Caspian region, a sharp increase in demand for tonnage is expected in the second half of August. The reason for this is the stabilization of weather conditions and the growing activity of Iranian Importers. Based on these expectations, freight rates in the region for prompt dates have already begun to increase. Incoming requests for voyages with the new crop grain from the Middle Volga region are also mostly intended for the Caspian market.
Freight rates for transportation of general cargo in transit and to the Volga region continue to grow. Despite the situation with grain and the appearance on the market of a major number of Russian-flagged vessels that were previously employed on transshipment, the growth trend in this segment has not changed. Moreover, the rates for direct voyages to the Volga and the Caspian regions are so high that it is often more profitable for Charterers to consign general cargo with transshipment to river vessels at Rostov.