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Smaller vessels officially dominate dry bulk markets


Smaller vessels

Panamax and supramax vessels clocked highest gains as at 15 September 2021

The viability of Panamax and Supramax vessels has crystalised. The Baltic Exchange’s main dry bulk sea freight index rose for a fifth straight session on Wednesday to its highest level in more than two weeks, on gains in panamax and supramax rates.

Striking shift in chartering
Charterers recently took the spotlight in their dilemma of having to use smaller vessels for their cargo, panamax and supramax owners were welcoming the shift. However, few were confident of this upward trend. Some even dismissed the viability; conceding smaller vessels did not stand a chance against the bigger ones despite all chaos confronting the maritime industry.

However, the overall index, which factored rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize vessels, gained 12 points at 4,233, its highest since 27 August 2021! Capesize index instead plunged 37 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 6,437. Nevertheless, this was deemed close to a 12-year peak, catalysed partially by brutal weather conditions in the East China Sea. Capesize vessels’ average daily earnings decreased $311 to $53,381, despite being known to transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal.

BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst Peter Sand, noted: “As disruption on the Australia-China coal trade enters its second year, new matches are being made between buyers and sellers. These changes fit into the wider picture of a strong dry bulk market influenced by congestions, particularly in Asia, soaking up tonnage and pushing freight rates upwards.”

Proven right move
Factors including an overall strong rebound in demand for commodities, congestion in ports, especially in China, and global shipping constraints pushed the main dry bulk index to an 11-year peak on 27 August 2021. The panamax index rose for a fifth straight session, adding 44 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 3,800, highest in over 2 weeks. Average daily earnings for panamax vessels which ferry between 60,000 and 70,000 tonne coal or grain cargoes, increased $398 to $34,201. The supramax index also added 37 points to 3,247.

Going by projected high Q4 trade volumes, chartering smaller vessels might just be the move. Marine Online has an extensive list of available vessels ready for charter at zero commission on its platform. Additionally, the platform also provides tools to allow all cargo and shipowners receive real-time updates on their voyages.


Marine Online News Team
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