On the 6th week, opinions of the parties on the Azov freight market were quite strongly divided. There was discussed the tonnage ready for loading after February 15. Charterers insisted on a sharp decline in freight rates, trying to achieve a reduction of about USD 10 per ton; they offered rates on the level of about USD 30 per ton of corn on the basis of the voyage from Azov to Marmara. Owners were not led by such attitude: at the beginning of the week, high 30s were offered for such voyage; a while later, they confirmed the average 30s. During the week, this level was kept from both sides. Some Charterers increased the freight rate though in order to have time to make shipment in February. At the end of the week, there is a reduction in rates, but the priority still remains on Owners’ side. The phased introduction of duties supports the demand for tonnage. At the moment, shippers are interested in shipments of corn during the free of duty period, therefore the freight level of the 6th week is likely to remain; at the end of the month, it will even increase for tonnage with loading dates in February.
In view of Owners’ desire to return their tonnage to the Azov ports as soon as possible for loading, it becomes more difficult to import goods to Russia through the Azov ports. Freight rates on the basis of voyages from the Black and Marmara seas to Azov/Rostov have grown, but there is no firm interest from Owners yet. Now is the priority to make voyages with grains, and Charterers of backhaul cargo are forced to show flexibility in negotiations, so as not to disrupt delivery schedules.
The Black Sea coasters market from deep-sea ports has reached a certain level, and the growth of rates has stopped a little. There is clearly visible Charterers’ focus on forming and shipping bigger lots. Now the main receivers of grain in the Mediterranean region import goods from Western Europe; a significant part of it is shipped under the state purchases tenders. Small parcels such as 4-7k are not in demand at the current high prices, despite the availability of a sufficient number of open vessels. Quotations of USD 20+ on the basis of the voyage from Kherson to Marmara per ton will be revised to a level below 20.