Supramax freight gains in US Gulf set to be capped by ballasters

A recent freight increase for Supramax vessels in the US Gulf Coast is likely to be capped by ballasters from the UK-Continent and West Mediterranean in a repeat of mid-January activity, shipping sources said this week.

Rising freight in the US Gulf Coast on the back of improved inquiry, including grains to Colombia and China as well as petcoke to the East Mediterranean, has attracted the interest of owners with vessels on the other side of the Atlantic looking to escape the soft rates.

The Houston to Krishnapatnam, India, petcoke route, basis 50,000 mt, was assessed at $36.50/mt Wednesday, while the Houston to Aliaga, Turkey, petcoke route, same basis, was assessed at $18.50/mt, each gaining 50 cents on the week, and offering opportunities for potential ballasters.

“Unless the UK-Continent and West Mediterranean pick up a bit you’d expect the recovery to be capped … that will be key in determining [the direction of the US Gulf for March],” a ship operator said.

The first ballasters were heard fixed Wednesday by Norden and Star Logistics in the $15,000/d range basis DOP for their grain cargoes to China, with others expected to follow suit.

Shipowners should be able to secure firm numbers for cargoes with February laycans however due to a ballast duration of around 15 days from Gibraltar.

Source: Platts

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