The reporting week created a sense of high season on the Azov market, for the first time in 2020. Freight rates spiked by record USD 4-5 in all directions; the voyage from Rostov to Marmara could be performed for USD 24 per ton of wheat. At the same time, believing that their time had come, Owners started negotiations with significantly higher ideas. Spot tonnage supply is lacking; there are also not much vessels opening in the first or second week of November in comparison with the abundance of cargo offer.
There are several reasons for such revival. One of the key factors was the setting to zero of the customs import duty in Turkey on wheat (previously it was 45%), corn (previously it was 25%) and barley (previously it was 35%) until January 1, 2021. The held GASC and TMO tenders had also motivated Traders to take determined actions. A large percentage was won by Russian grain; since the parcels for suppliers and ports of discharge are relatively small, it is clear that the coasters will be involved in this work.
The Caspian freight market also shows growth dynamics, but in contrast to Azov, it is quite moderate. The major indicator is still a fairly high level of demand for tonnage for voyages from the Volga River ports, while grain from the Southern regions is more shipped via Novorossiysk. Amid a favorable situation on the commodity market and the upcoming end of navigation, Shippers have flexibility in the price issue. Freight rates from river ports to Iran increased by an average of USD 4, and from sea port by USD 2-3 per ton.
The current year’s final voyage with general cargo in transit from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea will likely be fixed until the end of October. Considering the schedule of the locks closing, it is safe to say that the vessel that performing the voyage in transit will remain for wintering in the Caspian Sea. This season, there are fewer Owners who planned this than in 2019 and 2018, despite the fact that the “remaining” ones are the largest in the region. They are also the main Traders; therefore it is likely that in winter the Caspian Charterers will find themselves amidst a shortage of tonnage, when most of the fleet carries “their own” cargo.