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Cargill tops panamax charter list

Cargill tops panamax charter list
Commodities giant Cargill dominated the panamax spot market in March, booking 10% of all vessels fixed for time charter voyages.

Cargill tops panamax charter list in March
Nearly 10% of all ships booked by grain major

Commodities giant Cargill dominated the panamax spot market in March, booking 10% of all vessels fixed for time charter voyages. The US-based grain major chartered 23 panamaxes globally for individual voyages out of a total 236 fixed, according to Clarksons data. On top of this, Cargill took another three panamaxes for period charterers.

Rival commodities company Louis Dreyfus came close behind, taking 15 panamaxes, representing around 6.5% of spot market fixtures.

Both helped to boost spot market activity last month in the panamax sector and to exceed business levels seen 12 months ago, with the 236 fixtures up from 231 in March 2009. On a year-on-year basis it also represents a four-year high for March activity levels, compared to the record high of 288 panamax fixtures seen in 2006.

Cargill"s fixtures included three panamaxes chartered from Greece"s Excel Maritime Carriers when it took the 2006-built, 82,191 dwt Iron Bill , 2004-built, 76,417 dwt Grain Harvest and 1993-built, 71,504 dwt Birthday.

Cosco companies shared the top owners" spot with Excel, when Cargill chartered two panamaxes from Cosco (Hong Kong) and one ship from Cosco Tianjin during March, the Clarksons fixture data showed.

The third-largest charterers of panamax tonnage last month were STX Pan Ocean and Oldendorff Carriers, which hired 14 vessels each on the spot market.

Oldendorff has continued its hiring streak this week, with yesterday"s Baltic Exchange fixture list showing the German shipowner chartering two panamax vessels, both for Pacific round voyages. It took the 2005-built, 74,500 dwt Catalina at $27,500 per day with delivery in Qingdao between April 8-10, for a trip via Long Beach and redelivery in China.

Oldendorff was reported to have hired the 1997-built, 70,281 dwt Annoula for a trip with delivery in Pusan, via Dalrymple Bay and redelivery in east coast India for $28,750 per day. These rates helped push the Baltic Exchange"s Pacific round voyage route rate up $233 yesterday to reach $28,774 per day.

?We"re definitely seeing more activity in the Pacific market than in the Atlantic right now, but both areas have seen rates go up a small amount,? said a London-based broker.

?I would say that sentiment is still positive as we haven"t seen too much new tonnage and inquiry entering the market over the Easter holidays.?

In the Atlantic, a few fixtures had been concluded yesterday morning at higher levels than last week, including Cargill taking the 2006-built, 76,465 dwt Maritime Bagui at $30,000 per day, with a ballast bonus of $700,000, for delivery in the South American River Plate region for a trip via Egypt and redelivery in Cape Passero.

Although fixtures like this helped push the Baltic Exchange transatlantic round voyage rate up to $30,745 per day, the London broker said rates were slightly higher at around $32,000. With prices rising on all the major panamax routes, the average time charter rate climbed to $30,062 per day, but this rise could be shortlived, based on contract values for forward freight derivatives.

Although April panamax contracts were yesterday being valued at $30,500 per day, prices are set to drop off during the second and third quarters, according to figures from Freight Investor Services.

The London-headquartered FFA specialists said quarter contracts were being traded at values of around $24,500 per day, $5,000 lower than second quarter contracts. These figures were in line with a short period charter fixed by Cargill yesterday, when it was reported by the Baltic Exchange to have booked the 1990-built, 68,788 dwt Yun Tong Hai for four to six months" trading at $26,000 per day.


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