5 week: Russian River, Azov Sea, Caspian Sea; Coaster shipments
Azov’s market yet retains its declining trend. During the previous week workable level has been reduced on another 1-2 usd pmt. At any given time there is a substantial number of spot vessels idle at ADSC. Owners are ready to consider all cargo orders without preferences, albeit firm offers are few, as Charterers have completed their 2018’s programmes.
Nowadays it is hard to find any firm cargo bids. Aside from utter dullness of ‘traditional’ Turkish destination, also volumes’ throughput of Kavkaz lighterage have been reduced, which connected to introduction of new requirements of Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance. As a result, more and more ships find themselves free from contract jobs and add to oversupply of tonnage looking for direct voyages.
Despite the Charterers current ability to impose their desirable freight level, actual amount of contracts concluded do not grow. There is a vast gap between buying and selling prices on grains, which cannot be leveled via cheaper freight alone. The nearest perspective is bleak, continuous rates decline and even less shipments is expected.
Considering the utterly low Azov’s market, Owners are trying to reposition their tonnage elsewhere. Sea-types vessels with low draft, which traditionally performed voyages ex Temryuk, are now escaping from dropping rates to jobs w/I Med Sea. Sea-river fleet, on the other hand, has few options for alternative employment other than hauls from Black Sea ports of Ukraine. Even though in 2018 same to be considered as last resort and only by vessels w/o ice class, nowadays rates ex Azov are almost on par with Black Sea ports. In general, withdrawal of superfluous tonnage should support the freight level in the area, but this time fleet excess could hardly be neutralized, therefore overall picture shall not change.
Business activity in both Azov-Black Sea and Caspian regions has been heavily impacted by prolonged decline of USD/RUR ratio, which coupled with high inner market prices on grains, leads to lack of contracts signed. Several companies, which were contracted for grains delivery to Iran during whole winter period with fixed rate, are facing difficulties now due to currency fluctuations. Nevertheless, Traders expect market stabilizing, if not recovery, soon, owing to Iranian grains stock depletion, therefore Iranian buyers may reconsider their offers price-wise.