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Weekly Broker: Dry bulk activity falls in line with diminished freight rates

This past week has seen a surge in the volume of ships changing hands, contributed in no small part by the 15-vessel deal concluded by Star Bulk Carriers for the Songa Bulk fleet. Nevertheless, the bumpy dry bulk freight rate conditions at present have put the brakes on a bit compared to earlier in the year.

Capesize rates softened this week, bringing to an end a run of five weeks of rising rates. Panamax rates generally held steady, supported by fresh cargoes from Australia and Indonesia, and supramax rates were supported by increased enquiry levels in the Pacific while things remained under pressure for supramaxes in the Atlantic region with a fairly slow flow of fresh interest.

“On the dry bulk side, a very busy week in terms of number of units changing hands, though it is worth mentioning that more than half have been part of the Songa deal snapped up by Star Bulk. Despite this, there is a sense that things are slightly waning now in terms of activity being reported, though with buying interest still there and with the freight market still supporting a more optimistic view amongst most investors, it looks as though we may well see some further price hikes down the road,” Allied Shipbroking said in its latest report.

Chinese buyers continue to be the main driving force on the acquisition of older supramaxes. According to reports by multiple shipbroking houses, three supramaxes – the 2002-built Anna, the 2001-built Azizi and the 2001-built Alithini – were sold by Norway’s Maritime Opportunities, Greek owner Almi Marine, and Greek owner Astra Shipmanagement to different Chinese buyers respectively. Each vessel was sold for a price of around $8.5m.

Intermodal also listed a deal in which the 1998-built handymax bulker UBC Baton Rouge was sold by UK owner Tufton Oceanic. Greek owner Elamira is said to have bought the elderly vessel for a price of $4.8m.

“The tanker sale and purchase market has shown a few false starts as of late with flurries of interest in certain ships, followed by a number of offers and some disappointing sales prices. This week we have seen more of the same, with a continued tug of war between buyers and sellers. We are crying out for some liquidity and until we see a more steady flow of deals it will continue to be very difficult to call where sales values across the different vessel types lie. There are plenty of ships being circulated in the market, although a stalemate will continue until either the buyers step up to meet expected prices or the sellers drop their expectations,” Clarkson said in its latest report.

Crude oil carriers finally showed some positive signs in the past week, with rates showing slight improvement, thanks to demand levels emerging from Asia, while product tankers continued on their positive track overall.

Both Clarkson and Intermodal listed the sale of the 2012-built product tanker UE Sapphire. The 7,000 dwt tanker has been sold to Italy’s Fratelli Cosulich for an undisclosed price and renamed to Patrizia Cosulich.

Lorentzen & Stemoco has identified M Sea Capital as the buyer behind an earlier reported sale deal of three 47,000 dwt BP Shipping tankers, British Tranquillity, British Courtesy and British Serenity. The price for each vessel is $10.7m. M Sea Capital is based in Cyprus and is helmed by Modi Mano, who co-founded Navig8.

The secondhand containership sale and purchase market continues to see little activities this week.

The only container vessel reported sold by shipbrokers was the Diana-controlled 2009-built Hamburg. The 6,494 teu ship was sold to undisclosed buyer for $21m.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.
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