Owners lose out on rates as charterers restrict cargo
Charterers of panamax bulk carriers in the Atlantic appear to have won the battle against owners as time charter rates on the fronthaul route fell below $44,000 per day for the first time in eight working days and the price to hire a panamax for a Atlantic round voyage dropped under $33,000 per day.
Owners had used the lack of prompt tonnage in northern Europe as a reason to keep rates up but lost out when charterers withheld cargoes from the market, which weakened sentiment and saw some panamaxes fix at below "last done" prices.
Added to this, a drop in near-term paper contract values in the freight derivatives market hit physical charter prices and further encouraged rates to slide.
?A slow start to the week with not much depth to inquiry with some suggesting that rates would continue to drift lower,? the Baltic Exchange"s daily report said.
This had affected the market to charter panamax bulk carriers for longer periods of time, and might be one reason why a fixture agreed by commodities giant Louis Dreyfus subsequently fell through.
Dreyfus was linked with the 1995-built, 75,000 dwt Zhen Xing Hai, taking delivery in Dangjin for four to six months trading at $28,000 per day, but the business failed, the Baltic Exchange reported.
Other London brokers said they had not heard of any fixing and failing in the time charter market due to falling prices, but some panamax owners were having to lower their offers.
?It"s still relatively tight for prompt tonnage off the UK Continent. But then in the Mediterranean there"s quite few vessels that are under a bit of pressure,? said one broker. ?There"s not a huge amount of prompt cargo out there, and so owners looking for something right now are having to put down their rates.?
Owners operating panamaxes in the Atlantic trading region were still competing with ships being fixed from the Pacific region for trips via east coast South America to load grain cargoes and redeliver in Asia.
Of six panamax fixtures loading in east coast South America reported by the Baltic Exchange on Monday and Tuesday, five were for vessels based in the Pacific.
This included Eitzen Bulk Carriers booking the 1996-built, 73,008 dwt Barito at $28,000 per day, with delivery in Pusan, South Korea, between April 21-24, for a trip via east coast South America and redelivery in Singapore-Japan.
Chinese coal purchases have fallen over the last two weeks, leaving a number of panamaxes available in the Pacific market.
Port delays have also eased in the panamax sector, with ICAP Shipping reporting a 1m dwt fall in congestion levels over the last week that would exert ?downward pressure on the panamax sector?.
Another London broker said that although longhaul trips from Asia to pick up South American grain would absorb tonnage in the Pacific, this was working against owners operating ships in the Atlantic.
Owners were also having to compete with the accelerated pace of panamax newbuilding deliveries, with ICAP Shipping reporting 21 bulk carriers between 60,000 dwt-80,000 dwt entering service during the first quarter, in its latest monthly report.