Since early February, freight level on the Azov region had displayed a slow firm growth. Thus, rates at 7 week continue to gain at the same pace – plus 1$ compared to 6 weeks – and amounted to 36$ per tonne basis voyage ex Rostov to Marmara with wheat. The increasing rate tendency propels the Shipowners take a pause and wait for until early March – paying time for make profitable contracts on higher rates. Market participants suppose that the stable cargo flow will remain regular in the region for the next couple of weeks at least.
The weather in Azov basin is about to make some adjustments to the next week freight level. Whole sixth week Charterers looked for the weather conditions improvement, leading to abolition of ice restrictions and increase the fleet without an ice-class. But, contrary to the expectations, weather forecasters show a serious deterioration in the Azov Sea: air temperature fall to -13 degree Celsius, which could lead to the formation of thick ice fields. Therefore, the number of vessels in the ADSC will decrease even more: tonnage will move from the ports of Azov and Rostov to Yeisk and Temryuk, where ice formation is not predicted. But the reduction of freight cost from the ice-free ports is quite expected due to the increase of fleet supply.
Shipowners, who work ex Ukrainian Black Sea ports, have recently shown an increased interest for the back-haul voyages. In the high freight market season it was not profitable to lose time on additional port call and loading operations, fleet tried to return as quickly as possible for the main cargo – the grain. Now, when the intensity of shipments from Ukraine to Turkey falls, and this situation continues until the high season (late June – early July), Shipowners are more willing to consider the back-haul, trying to employ their fleet on any job if only to avoid idling the vessels.
The rates for voyage with wheat basis Astrakhan – Iran show a smooth increase and reached to 47$ per tonne, which is 1$ more compared to the 6-week period. Basically, this is due to the decline a quantity of available tonnage, ready to work from the ports of Astrakhan by reason of heavy ice. Because of the deterioration of the ice conditions in the northern part of the Caspian Sea Shipowners prefer to take voyages from Aktau and don’t incur financial losses and waste weeks waiting for the caravans to enter and exit to the Volga-Caspian Channel. Nowadays there is an abundance of the fleet without an ice-class in Aktau – here tonnage from the frozen terminals of Astrakhan had been redeployed, therefore rates on the route Aktau-Iran are being reduced. In addition, Exporters of wheat, barley and corn in the Caspian are showing notable activity, supporting firm traffic and high demand for tonnage for coming weeks.