50 week: Russian River, Azov Sea, Caspian Sea; Coaster shipments
During the previous week Azov’s market has become stable. Even though not long ago it was clearly the ‘Owner’s market’, currently the balance of power has achieved definite parity. Main reason for it is ongoing situation on the commodity market: amount of willing buyers for grains of Russian origin is decreasing, owing to price growth on inner market and emerging competitive offers from other exporting states. These days workable freight level for voyage with wheat from Azov to Samsun is about 30 usd pmt, while few Ship Owners are ready to consider even lower rates in case they prefer short-leg haul.
After prolonged weather-caused delays, most Owners are yet to see opening dates of their fleet, which leaves no other option but to postpone firm work till next week. Charterers, on the other hand, are trying to avoid fixing with laycans on last week of December, therefore are concentrating on finding (few and rare now) spot tonnage, while holding the main program in hope of fixing cheap vessels after holidays.
As expected, ice restrictions at Azov/Rostov shall be introduced after 20 of December, while fleet w/o ice class continues to work ex Azov’s ports. Still, there is a risk that in case of delays or sudden weather conditions change vessel may become idle at load port till the end of ice campaign. Due to the latest, a number of Ship Owners are now reluctant to perform voyages from Azov and they are willing to improve their offers freight-wise for cargo orders ex Black Sea ports or from Temryuk.
Due to seasonal price hop on Russian wheat, Ukrainian Traders have become more active. Mostly those, who ship from Azov’s ports of Ukraine, where after recent incident involving war ships, it is sufficiently harder to find Owners, willing to pass Kerch strait. As a result, local goods are declining in terms of price, following by increasing attention of Traders.
Deep-sea ports of Black Sea have seen no change in comparison with previous week. Fleet supply and demand are more or less equal and rates are still higher than it was before high grain season (May-June). Last done Kherson-Marmara with 3-5kt of soy or bran was 22 usd pmt.
Grain shipments ex Danube ports have become more frequent recently. Such business looks more attractive for those Ship Owners who usual perform hauls from Temryuk, as freight for the moment is higher and fumigation requirements are not as strict as it is in Temryuk.
Unfavorable weather conditions in Caspian area have fortified the market against an outlined decline. Astrakhan has been affected by heavy rainfall while Caspian Sea suffered stormy weather. More than 10 vessels have gathered on the roads of Aktau awaiting their turn for loading operations. As it seems, local fleet is mostly occupied on long-term contract jobs, therefore it’s hard to expect that sufficient amount of tonnage shall open after holidays. Most likely rates will decrease smoothly, followed by one-by-one vessel’s return to voyage-basis employment.