THE BALTIC Dry Index continued its decline last week, hitting a nadir of 530 on Thursday (16 February) before inching up to 538 on Friday – 11% down on a week prior.

The Baltic Dry Index for the week ending 17 February 2023. Source: Baltic Exchange


There was an overriding negative sentiment in the sector this week as the Cape 5TC average fell from US$4,432 to US$2,246 on Friday. This was largely led by the Atlantic and a number of fixtures are down significantly. However, it was also due to a lack of cargoes available. Owners are reportedly considering idling tonnage to wait out a recovery. The Pacific was busy with all of the miners in the market throughout the week, but the C5 route was fixing at US$6.30 at the start to US$6.05 by the end. There was very little activity from Brazil, with fixtures for end March dates reported in the region of US$16.25. There were backhaul cargoes reported at fixed negative US$10-12,000, but cargoes from Canada and Colombia to the Far East dragged the market down. With the onset idling tonnage, a recovery is not expected by Owners to be on the immediate horizon. Without fresh cargoes away from the usual West Australia – and shorter runs – the current low returns may continue. However, some were reporting a floor may have been reached.


A healthy amount of activity, but overall rates remained under downward pressure in most areas. The Atlantic saw a reasonable amount of volume from South America and rates were seen basis delivery EC South America in the mid US$14,000s plus mid US$400,000s ballast bonus for nearby dates. From Asia, again there were little signs of a change of direction as Owners were just happy to get their vessels covered. Rates for an Australian round were generally in the US$8,000s for an 82,000-dwt, dependent on delivery point. Limited volume from Indonesia saw a 75,000-dwt fixing delivery Philippines for a round voyage at US$7,000. Period activity saw Owners seeking short term period. It also surfaced that an 81,000-dwt open South China fixed for six to nine months trading redelivery worldwide at US$14,500 for the first six months and then US$16,000 for balance.


A more positive feel generally during the course of the week. The Atlantic saw stronger demand from the US Gulf and more grain movements from the East Mediterranean buoyed demand from there. A Supramax was heard to have been fixed basis delivery Çanakkale trip via Ukraine to Bangladesh in the US$17,000s. From South America there appeared to be a clear out of prompt tonnage and demand could grow – but it was to early to see much upward movement in rate. From Asia again better levels of enquiry were seen from the south. A 58,000-dwt was heard fixed basis delivery Indonesia via Australia redelivery Singapore-Japan in the mid US$12,000s. Meanwhile, a 55,000-dwt open Surabaya fixed a trip via Indonesia redelivery China at US$9,000. The Indian Ocean saw activity and a 56,000-dwt fixed a trip delivery Salalah to East Coast India at US$13,500. Period activity was limited but a 61,000-dwt open Bin Qasim fixed short period in the upper US$13,000s.


Glimmers of positivity crept into the sector, but some cautioned that it could be short-lived. A 32,000-dwt was fixed for a trip from Lisbon to the US Gulf at US$8,000. A 32,000-dwt fixed from Jorf Lasfar to Nemrut Bay with an intended cargo of steel billets at US$6,500. A 35,000-dwt fixed basis delivery United Kingdom for a trip to the Eastern Mediterranean with an intended cargo of scrap at US$8,150. Elsewhere from South America, a 35,000-dwt was heard fixed delivery Pecem trip redelivery US Gulf with steels at US$8,000. From Asia it was finely balanced. A 34,000-dwt was rumoured to have been placed on subjects for a trip from Jakarta via Western Australia to Taiwan with a cargo of salt at US$9,000. There was also still an appetite from Charterers for longer duration with a 32,000-dwt open Vietnam fixing for two to three laden legs at US$10,250.


In the Middle East Gulf, LR2s have been leading the charge this week with consistently firming sentiment throughout. TC1 has surged 59.94 points to WS184.38 (a 48% rise) and a TC20 run west climbed US$917,000 to US$4,550,000. LR1s have been following their larger peers and TC5 (55,000t MEG/Japan) ended up at WS214.64 (+71.43) by the end of the week. On a voyage to the UK-Continent (TC8) jumped up US$558,000, to US$3,866,000. MRs have been capitalising on a positive period this week with TC17 hopping up another 33.57 points to WS387.14 and a round-trip TCE of US$52,518 per day.

West of Suez, LRs have also been progressing this week and TC15 has risen US$1,100,000 to US$4,000,000 tanking the round-trip TCE back into the black and up to US$17,650 per day. TC16 has also been optimistically improving, seeing the index hop up 49.29 points (30%) to WS212.86 and just shy of US$50,000 per day round-trip TCE.

MRs on the UK continent have suffered with activity levels dropping off this week. TC2 has been cut back 28.89 points to WS264.44 and similarly TC19 has ended up at WS274.29 (-29.28).

UK-Continent Handymax vessels on TC23 (30,0000t Cross UK-Continent) have rocketed 91.87 points this week to WS263.75.

In the Mediterranean, TC6 has been resolute this week from a balance of enquiry and available tonnage. WS265 has been fixed repeatedly and led the index to this level at time of writing.

In the Americas, MRs have been modestly improving this week. TC14 regained 15 points to WS210.83 and TC18 improved 17.5 points to WS312.5. Meanwhile, a TC21 run to the Caribbean was propelled up US$358,000 to US$1,392,000.


The VLCC market continued its positive trajectory this week with some freight climbing back to levels not seen since December. For the 270,000mt Middle East Gulf to China voyage the rate rose by 8.9 points (13.9%) to WS66.32. This shows a daily round voyage TCE of US$46,125 per day basis the Baltic Exchange’s vessel description. The rate for 280,000mt Middle East Gulf to US Gulf (via the cape/cape routing) is assessed a further 2.44 points higher, taking it just over the WS40 mark.

In the Atlantic the 260,000mt West Africa/China improved by 5.36 points to WS65.5, showing a round-trip TCE of US$44,864 per day. The rate for 270,000mt US Gulf/China climbed US$377,778 (15.61%) to just over US$8.78 million (US$35,000 per day round trip TCE).


The rate for 135,000mt CPC/Augusta climbed and incremental 4.22 points this week to 166.72 (a round-trip TCE of just under US$86,000 per day). In West Africa, the 130,000mt Nigeria/Rotterdam voyage was more active this week. Levels ticked up 11.25 points to WS125.34 (a daily round-trip TCE of about US$53,501 per day). In the Middle East, the rate for 140,000mt Basra/Lavera held stable in the mid WS50s.


In the North Sea market, rates for the 80,000mt Hound Point/Wilhelmshaven route took another 4.68 point dip to WS153.13 (a round-trip daily TCE of US$50,119). In the Mediterranean, the rate for 80,000mt Ceyhan/Lavera had a 13.44 chunk taken out of it to WS172.5 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$53,629). Across the Atlantic, the Stateside Aframax market rebounded with gusto. The rate for 70,000mt East Coast Mexico/US Gulf improved by 25.63 points to the WS195 region (about US$54,500 per day round-trip TCE). Meanwhile, the rate for 70,000mt Covenas/US Gulf jumped 30.31 points to WS190 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$49,031). For the Transatlantic route of 70,000mt US Gulf/Rotterdam, rates also continued upwards, rising 33.58 points to sail over WS200 and up to WS214.29 (showing a round-trip TCE of US$58,144 per day).


There have been several fixtures reported in the market. It is our understanding a 160,000 TDFE vessel with 0.15% boil off was fixed away from North Australia – East between US$65-70,000 daily RV, which is well in line with published routes this week. BLNG1g has remained for the most part flat during the week with rates rising US$6033, to close at US$69,597 RV. However, expectations are that this rise ought to continue as owners are reticent to drop any rates when activity is beginning to pick up.

In the West, we have finally seen that Freeport has reopened with the first cargo being lifted since June 2022. This will continue to eat away at the ships available for spot which a number have been fixed away in the last week. This tightening of the list (a first for several weeks) has pushed rates up, BLNG2g rose by US$1988 to close at US$55,574. However, BLNG3g hasn’t seen quite a change we published at US$66,227 – a rise of US$639 during the week.

As spot enquiry and fixing picked up steam there has been a cool down in period interest. Ships remain tight for early delivery. And as rates rise, sublets are potentially looking at what can be done within program or very short term rather than refocussing on period/term deals. Current estimations for a 174,000 2-Stroke vessel with 0.085% boil off and delivery one month ahead: US$176,500 for 12 months and US$165,00 for three years.


It continues to be a relatively flat week with markets moving marginally positive in the East, while the West dropped a few dollars. Despite continued fixing for BLPG1 routes, and fixing moving later into March dates, there is potential for a lull and the spread between East and West could narrow. This makes Western voyages more attractive for owners. In the meantime rates rose from US$90.429 to US$94.143, which gives a TCE equivalent of US$76,400 for a daily round trip return voyage.

For the BLPG2 and BLPG3 routes, slight drops on both have eaten away (though minimally) to TCE earnings. A Houston-Flushing BLPG2 voyage was published at US$76.8 – a drop of US$1.6 over the week and a TCE equivalent of US$80,765. BLPG3 didn’t fare much better, shedding over US$2 to close at US$136.286. However, this did little to TCE earnings which dipped only US$715 to finish at US$64,660.