Lackluster U.S. Gulf to Japan Charter Is to Blame for Panamax Rates

Monday, April 02, 2001
A lower than expected U.S. Gulf to Japan voyage charter has set the tone for the panamax sector, brokers said on Monday.

The 1982-built, 60,052 dwt Marienvoy was reported fixed at $21.75 per ton of heavy grains basis no combination destination ports. Loading is scheduled for the end of March to the beginning of April.

While the rate no doubt also factors in the age of the panamax, brokers pointed out that the present market level for modern panamaxes of 15 years or younger for this route is around $22.35 per ton, according to the Baltic Panamax Index (BPI).

While the Pacific time and voyage charters ease back, however, the fronthaul panamax market is showing signs of marginal improvement. Shipowners, it seems, would prefer to take their chances in the Atlantic at the moment, brokers said, adding that charterers are starting to consider paying a premium in order to charter a panamax to enter the Pacific.

Freight rates for Atlantic panamax trading in general appear to be holding, although some levels have been shaved. Activity in the Atlantic remains focused on the South American market, with both panamaxes and handies finding trade in the area., brokers said.

For handies of 30,000 dwt, charterers are willing to pay between $20.50 and $22 a ton to transport different grain cargoes in mid-April from South America to the Continent and Mediterranean. On the timecharter front, older panamaxes of late-1970s build have attracted around $9,000 for South America round voyages, with newer ships securing higher rates

The 1994-built, 73,236 dwt Thalassini Niki was been chartered at $11,500 daily plus $230,000 ballast bonus for delivery Paranagua on April 15-20, with redelivery scheduled for the Continent, by grain house Bunge.

For contrast, the 1987-built, 42,620 dwt Irene set for delivery east coast of South America in early April for a trip to the Continent has also been reported fixed at $10,000 daily plus $165,000 ballast bonus, brokers said.

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