On the 7th week, the weather increased the freight rates for river-sea type vessels for voyages from the Russian ports of the Azov Sea. Fleet rotation have been prolonged by often occurrences of weather worsening periods in the Kerch Strait, Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and the Aegean Sea, which sometimes followed each other, increasing the duration of the voyage by 4-7 days. For many vessels that are now fixed to Marmara Sea’s ports or for more distant ones, there is no longer an opportunity to perform a voyage before the end of February. Therefore, the rates of the level of USD 30-32 per ton from Azov/Rostov to Marmara will most likely add a dollar or two at the end of the month for vessels ready loading in February.
Exporters are already showing an interest in rates for March and are trying to form up the sales economy for the next month. When forecasting for March, it is worth considering that at past state tenders for the purchase of grain in Turkey and Egypt, Russian grain did not take such key positions as in the last few months. This is explained the issue of purchasing grains from producers at a price offsetting the export duty, but not everyone is able to do this in such volumes so far. In terms of price development on the domestic market, wheat is already experiencing a decrease from the side of processors, as well as a decline in CPT prices in ports. The pivot point will be in mid-March, when the duty on wheat will be increased; until then, spot/prompt shipments in small parcels will be a higher priority, which will keep the demand for tonnage in the Azov Sea.
It is worth noting that great demand for tonnage is observed in almost all regions; rates for large coasters and handy size vessels have increased. Exporters who are not involved in regular shipments have found themselves in a difficult situation. Grain Charterers in any case have space to discuss the freight level due to the volatility of purchase prices and rising prices from the side of importers. Companies that are engaged in the supply of minerals, lumber, secondary raw materials, etc. do not always have such a margin in the transaction economy in order to offset the difference between the expected freight rates in February/March and the current level. Therefore, a sufficient amount of cargo is open in spot and ready for shipment. It can be assumed that due to these orders, the freight market will be supported in case of a decrease in grain exports from the Russian Federation or similar factors.