THE BALTIC Dry Index last week posted a turnaround from its months-long freefall.

The index inched upward throughout last week to hit 883 on Friday. This was 64% above the end of the previous week (538 on Friday 17 February), but still well below a peak in May 2022 of 3369.

The Baltic Dry Index for the week ending 24 February. Source: Baltic Exchange


Results from Rio Tinto and BHP disappointed this week, but there was hope that with China reopening it would lead to more cargo. In the end, that certainly seemed to be the case. There was a complete change in seven days as activity was reported from West Australia and in the Atlantic. Not a great deal was reported from Brazil. However, there was enough activity for the indices to all jump significantly. Last Friday the 5TC was at US$2,246 and as we close the week it stands at US$5,271. Rates from West Australia to China jumped a dollar to near US$7, C3 from Brazil with limited activity was trading up slightly in the low to mid US$17s. As reported last week the market needs cargo and there is optimism from Owners that the market is turning. But in its fragile state at present it could turn again quickly.


The Panamax market surged into life this week for the first time in 2023. This was fueled largely by firmer demand ex EC South America for mid-March arrivals and ably supported by a buoyant FFA market. All basins subsequently witnessed sizeable gains. Rates of US$13,000 + US$300,000 agreed early part were now achieving US$16,000 + US$600,000 on Friday, albeit decent spec tonnage for trips via EC South America redelivery Singapore-Japan. The North saw Transatlantic rates achieve double digits too for the first time in a while. Asia, not to be outshone, also saw solid support over the week – particularly from Indonesia and the Australia to India coal runs with excess US$12,000 agreed a couple of times. Grain round trips ex Australia also gained momentum with premium rates rumoured fixed for grain clean tonnage. Period interest naturally grew and there were reports in the early part of the week of an 81,000-dwt delivery China agreeing high US$15,000’s basis five to seven months.


A stronger week for the sector with gains made in both basins. The Atlantic saw better activity from the South Atlantic and with more fresh enquiry rates pushed higher from the US Gulf. That said, the Continent remained finely balanced with limited fresh opportunities for owners. From Asia, an influx of prompt requirements from South East Asia buoyed the market and saw vessels being sought from the north to cover the demand. Period cover was sort and a 63,000-dwt open Dammam fixing four to six months trading at US$15,500. There was talk of a 63,000-dwt open Mediterranean for one year with redelivery in the Atlantic at US$15,000. From the US Gulf a 63,000-dwt was fixed for a petcoke run to the Far East at around US$20,000. Further south, a 56,000-dwt fixed delivery NC South America for a Transatlantic run at US$13,000. Asia saw a 58,000-dwt open Malaysia fixing a trip via Indonesia to China at US$16,500. Further north, a 63,000-dwt was heard fixed delivery North China for a trip via Indonesia redelivery South east Asia in the upper US$12,000s.


A week of positivity across the sector. East Coast South America led the charge in the Atlantic, with a 37,000-dwt fixing from Recalada to the Mediterranean at US$14,000 whilst another 37,000-dwt fixed from Recalada to the Caribbean at US$14,000. In the Mediterranean, a 38,000-dwt fixing from Oran to North Coast South America with an dwt cargo of clinker at US$9,250. The US Gulf showed its first shoots of positivity with a 34,000-dwt rumoured to have fixed a trip from the US Gulf to Portugal with an intended cargo of Petcoke at US$8,750. In Asia, a 38,000-dwt was fixed from Indonesia via Western Australia to Indonesia with an intended cargo of grains at US$10,000. A 34,000-dwt was fixed from Brisbane to Japan with a cargo of sugar at US$13,000 and period was also active with a 37,000-dwt rumoured to have been fixed for 10 to 13 months at US$14,000.


The majority of the Baltic Exchange CPP freight routes have fallen this week, which was reflected in the BCTI dropping to under the 1000 mark.

In the Middle East, LRs have taken a tumble after improving. On the LR2s TC1 peaked at just over WS200 midweek to return back to WS194.38. Similarly, a TC20 run to the UKC topped out at US$4,770,000 (up from US$4,614,000) and finally settled at US$4,714,000 by the end of the week. Much like their larger counterparts LR1s have come off this week. TC5 has lost 7.58 points to WS209.29 and TC8 (65kt MEG/UK-Continent) shed US$100,100 down to US$3,866,850. Despite these drops LR2s are still returning around US$50,000 /day and LR1s US$40,000 /day round-trip TCE. On the MRs TC17 has been retested down, and WS325 has been reported on subjects more than once, leading the index down 58.57 points to WS321.43.

West of Suez the LR2s of TC15 have remained balanced around the US$3,900,000 – US$4,100,000 mark all week. There has been a little more activity on the LR1s this week, but despite this TC16 dropped to WS200 (-12.14).

UK-Continent MRs have been consistently under the cosh this week, attributed to a surplus of tonnage outweighing demand. TC2 has lost 66.11 points to WS193.33 and likewise TC19 came down from WS268.57 to WS202.86.

Handymax vessels have been feeling the pressure just as the MRs have this week. TC6 has lost 27.25 points to WS237.13, and on the UK-Continent TC23 dropped to WS261.25 (-31.25).

In the Americas, just as the MRs recouped last week, they have been slashed back down this week. TC14 dipped 66.67 points to 125.83 and TC18 was cut down to WS211.67 (-84.16). A run to the Caribbean (TC21) has also taken a 44% hit and is currently pegged at US$693,750 (-US$543,750).


The VLCC rates took a slightly negative turn this week, with the exception of the US Gulf to China route.

For the 270,000mt Middle East Gulf to China voyage the rate eased 3.5 points to WS4.73, which shows a daily round voyage TCE of US$47,300 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 one point lower at WS40.5.

In the Atlantic markets, the rate for 260,000mt West Africa/China slipped one point to about WS66.5 showing a round-trip TCE of US$49,900 per day. This is US$2,700 more than a week ago. The rate for 270,000mt US Gulf/China swung upwards by over US$325,000 to just over US$9.322 million (US$43,300 per day round-trip TCE) and overnight reports today have details of Occidental on subjects with a Trafigura relet (2017 built scrubber fitted) at US$9.4 million for this trip.


The rate for 135,000mt CPC/Augusta softened by one point this week to WS167 (a round-trip TCE of US$87,900 per day). In West Africa, for the 130,000mt Nigeria/Rotterdam voyage, rates firmed by almost 10 points to WS136 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$62,500). In the Middle East, the rate for 140,000mt Basra/Lavera gained two points to WS60, with tonnage availability reportedly diminishing.


In the North Sea market, rates for the 80,000mt Hound Point/Wilhelmshaven route remained flat at around WS152.5-153.5 (a round-trip daily TCE of US$50,800).

In the Mediterranean, the rate for 80,000mt Ceyhan/Lavera dropped four points to WS174.5 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$56,100).

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Stateside Aframax market sharply rose. The rate for 70,000mt East Coast Mexico/US Gulf improved by 68 points to WS267.5 (about US$90,100 per day round-trip TCE) while the rate for 70,000mt Covenas/US Gulf had 64 points added to last week’s rate to WS257 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$79,000).

For the Transatlantic route of 70,000mt US Gulf/Rotterdam, rates are up by 24 points at about WS242.5 (showing a round-trip TCE of US$70,700 per day).


The BLNG1g route rose slightly and is beginning to shift away from the flat market we have seen of late. Enquiry on the spot continues to increase. And although cargoes are looking for vessels available open prompt, there is a slight disconnect between owners and charterers ideas. The Australia-Japan run finished at US$75,702 rising over US$6000 and holding its own against the US routes, which are falling a little behind.

For the US runs, both BLNG2g and BLNG3g increased with the continued opening of Freeport. The prospect of further cargoes in the mix could open up the ARB and overtake the BLNG1g levels. However, at the moment there’s still a discount vs the East with BLNG1g closing at US$56,597 and BLNG3g US$68,675.

Period discussions continue to focus on sublet tonnage. There is less demand vs the spot, but rates are still increasing on one and three-year terms. Current estimations for a 174k 2-Stroke vessel with 0.085% boil off and delivery one month ahead: US$183,000 for 12 months, and US$167,00 for three years.


Rates rose this week over US$7.5 on the back of a spate of fixing and a strong uptick in the US market, which has attracted ships away from the AG. This activity, coupled with uncertain itineraries, has created a tighter position list and pushed sentiment higher. Rates for a Ras Tanura-Chiba BLPG1 run rose to end at US$102.714. This is the first time we have seen the route back into triple digits since the end of December 2022.

The US market took off, rising over US$22 on a Houston-Chiba BLPG3 route to close at US$159.571 (having briefly touched US$160 mid-week). This pushed TCE earnings up for owners to US$85,698 daily return on a round voyage. A vessel fixed for mid-April dates was done so at US$159 Houston-Chiba. And with enquiry still looking for later in the month there are expectations that this premium over the AG should remain. With less fixed on BLPG2 Houston-Flushing, rates rose slightly less, but still quite a healthy amount, to close at US$91.2 (a rise of just over US$14 on the week). This gave a TCE daily return on a round voyage of US$102,918.