THE BALTIC Dry Index continued a steep decline this past week, hitting 1130 on Friday.

The decline began after the index saw a peak of 1723 on 21 December; it has declined every day since.

Friday was the lowest BDI since early August.

The Baltic Dry Index for the week ending 6 January 2023. Source: Baltic Exchange


The decline in the first week of the year appeared to be no surprise to the market due to the lacklustre activity and seasonal headwinds since the holiday season.

The average rate of the Capesize 5 timecharter (5TC) routes had its sharpest fall on Tuesday, losing almost 30% from the last publishing day 10 days ago. Later in the week the market continued falling but at a slower pace and finally lifted US$70 on Friday to close the week at US$12,543. Compared with the same period last year, the 5TC is about US$7000 or 35% lower in value.

While the Atlantic remained quiet, the west Australia to Qingdao trade was priced below mid US$7s throughout the week. Demand and cargo enquiry next week will determine which direction the Capesize is taking before the fast-approaching Lunar New Year.


Following the Christmas holidays, the Panamax market began sedately across the board, followed by rates coming under pressure from the outset. Downward pressure came from a lack of demand in both basins all week, forcing cheaper levels to be conceded by owners.

The Atlantic witnessed some improved South America activity, but with excess tonnage count rates drifted throughout the week.

Following a weak end to 2022 higher ballaster count from Southeast Asia only compounded to the weaker market. And, with Asia massively unsupported, the immediate outlook appeared very bearish – US$8,000 was agreed on an 82,000-dwt delivery China for a NoPac round trip. Consequently, Aps and ballast bonus deals were the norm ex EC South America to Far East, with varying rates depending on dates. However, US$16,500 + US$650,00 was agreed a few times for index types/dates. Period activity included a scrubber fitted 81,000-dwt delivery China fixed for five to eight months at US$16,250.


The first week back for many after the holidays gave little cheer to owners as both the Pacific and Atlantic regions suffered with limited fresh enquiry and an abundance of prompt tonnage. The general feeling amongst many players that this trend could continue until after the Lunar New Year, but only time will tell.

In the Atlantic activity was seen from the US Gulf, a 57,000-dwt fixing a trip to the Mediterranean at US$18,000. Elsewhere, a 56,000-dwt was fixed from the Mediterranean to West Africa at US$10,000. Little action was seen from South America and rates remained under pressure.

Asia also saw downward pressure and again pressure focused on the readily available amount of open tonnage. A 61,000-dwt fixing for a trip from Kwangyang to the Arabian Gulf at US$8,000. Meanwhile, a 53,000-dwt open CJK was heard fixed for an Indonesian round voyage at US$3,000. It remains to be seen how long it will take to absorb excess tonnage.


Sentiment remained negative, despite a return for many after the holiday season, with further losses in both basins.

East Coast South America has seen levels tumble due to a lack of enquiry with a 32,000-dwt fixing from Fazendinha to the Eastern Mediterranean at US$11,000. Meanwhile, a 38,000-dwt fixed Santos to Morocco at US$15,250.

In the Mediterranean, a 36,000-dwt fixed basis delivery Çanakkale to the Caribbean with an intended cargo of steels at US$7,500 for the first 40 days and US$10,000 for the balance. An unnamed handysize vessel was linked with fixing a cargo of sulphur from the Baltic to Casablanca at US$8,000, but further details had yet to emerge.

In Asia, activity was also limited. A 30,000-dwt fixing from South East Asia to China at US$5,100 and a large handy was rumoured to have been placed on subjects from South Korea via Prince Rupert for a round voyage with wood pellets in the low US$7,000s.


The Middle East Gulf has been tested hard this week with fixing being conducted off market and fixing levels on 2023 flat rates yet to be seen on the LRs. On the MRs, WS355 has been reported on subjects for a TC17 run at the end of the week on 2022 flat rates – converting to approximately WS275 on 2023 flats.

West of Suez, LRs have been notably muted this week with hardly any fixtures reported in the open market. TC16 has lost an incremental 7.87 points to WS253.63 and TC15 dropped US$41,000 holding in the mid US$4,900,000s.

The UK-Continent MRs have had just enough activity to keep the rates stable. TC2 held at a WS point or two below WS200 and TC19 hovered around the WS215-217.5 region.

The Handymax market in the Mediterranean has been in freefall this week, very little enquiry has led the TC6 index to fall by 57.82 points to WS234.06. Up on the UK-Continent TC23 remains steady at WS250 at the time of writing.  

The US Gulf MR markets has suffered the hardest this week, A widely reported USG/Caribs fixture at £550,000 has led the TC21 index down to that level. TC14 has also lost 12.5 WS points to end up at WS112.33 and TC18 came down to WS186.67 (-18.66).

The MR Atlantic Triangulation Basket TCE lost US$962 from US$29,257 to US$28,295.


The VLCC market has been on a downward trend this week and 270,000mt Middle East Gulf to China has fallen three points to WS53.27, which translates into a round voyage TCE of US$31,800 basis the Baltic Exchange’s vessel description. The 280,000mt Middle East Gulf to US Gulf (via the cape/cape routing) trip is assessed at WS39.67, a drop of two points this week.

In the Atlantic region, the rate for 260,000mt West Africa/China is rated three points lower at WS54.59 (a round-trip TCE of about US$33,700 per day) and 270,000mt US Gulf/China fell US$315,625 to around the US$8.43 million level (US$35,400 per day round trip TCE).


The Suezmax market fell in all regions this week. Rates for 135,000mt CPC/Augusta fell 15 points to WS173.44 (a round-trip TCE of US$94,300 per day), even though Suezmaxes are being utilised on a part cargo basis for Aframax cargoes. For the 130,000mt Nigeria/Rotterdam voyage, rates also plunged 15 points to WS93.5 (a daily round-trip TCE of about US$35,000). The 140,000mt Basra/Lavera market eased about 5.5 points to WS68.5.


In the North Sea market, rates for the 80,000mt Hound Point/Wilhelmshaven route have remained flat this week around the WS170 mark (a round-trip daily TCE of US$68,000). In the Mediterranean markets, the rate for 80,000mt Ceyhan/Lavera has risen 13 points since the New Year to WS173 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$57,100). The Stateside Aframax market has tumbled again after the Festive season and the rate for 70,000mt East Coast Mexico/US Gulf is 54 points lower than at the start of the week at WS143 (about US$32,200 per day round-trip TCE), while rates for the 70,000mt Covenas/US Gulf trip collapsed 46 points to just below WS132 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$25,900). For the longer-haul 70,000mt US Gulf/Rotterdam voyage, rates have fallen almost 20 points this year to WS176 (showing a round-trip TCE of close to US$45,300 per day).


A relatively warm winter has impacted gas usage, coupled with higher inventory levels, as well as longer tonnage lists (with further shutdowns in Freeport and cancellations elsewhere), spot rates have been put under continued pressure. There have been cargoes offered out, but with a plentiful supply of cold and modern tonnage the rates have been dropping. Out in Australia a drop of over US$30,000 has given the BLNG1g R.V rate of US$129,779 Aus-Japan, although market reports suggest there have been deals done at less for relet tonnage.

BLNG2g, and BLNG3g haven’t escaped the fall and although BLNG2g US Gulf-Continent was published at US$120,160 for a Round Voyage, reports suggest ships offering in at around US$100,000 per day. But it hasn’t been an easy call. With few fixtures done there isn’t a clear direction or high degree of conformity of the market levels. As we leave the festive period there could be greater activity, which could arrest the fall in LNG routes. However, a reliance on the widening of the ARB could maintain the bearish sentiment for at least a few more weeks.

There are reports of term deals being fixed for longer term, in excess of six years, with period still showing strength. Current estimations for a 174k 2-Stroke vessel with 0.085% boil off: US$200,250 for 12 months, and US$174,750 for three years.


We start the new year with big adjustments down for all three BLPG routes. The last publication was 23 December, so an adjustment was expected, and we have witnessed a continued downward pressure on rates. BLPG1 currently sits US$40 down since the end of 2022, publishing at US$79, which is also a drop in TCE daily earnings of US$45,000 per day. Fewer fixtures and the holidays created a rather subdued start to the year, but activity is expected to pick up and in a largely sentiment driven market rates should rise as a result.

As expected, BLPG2 and BLPG3 out in the West have dropped considerably since the end of 2022. BLPG3 Houston-Chiba saw the greatest drop losing US$53 to publish at US$123.429 at the end of the week. This drop saw over US$40,000 lost on TCE Earnings on this route alone. But as activity has begun to pick up and charterers still seem keen to fix tonnage, this downward trend could turn around. BLPG2 Houston-Flushing lost the least since publication started in 2023 but managed to still drop US$37 on the headline and over US$50,000 TCE to finish at US$68.4, with a daily TCE earnings of US$70,649.