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Dry bulk sectors struggling due to excess vessel supply, low bunker prices




Market conditions have generally been very bearish across the entire dry bulk sector for the last six months, largely due to vessel oversupply and plummeting bunker prices.

In this Platts data feature, we examine five key routes across the Capesize down to Supramax segments in both the Pacific and Atlantic basins to chart the last two quarters for the dry bulk sector.

Capesize rates: Atlantic, Pacific

Capesize freight rates were coming off a high in October, under pressure from a slide in global cargo count and an increase in ballasters to the Atlantic region.

Tonnage overhang was more evenly spread across the two basins, putting a dampener on rates globally. Bunker prices continued to plummet, putting downward pressure on voyage rates.

Price spikes were seen through the last quarter of 2015 due to weather-related disruptions at multiple north China ports, and congestion absorbed some vessel oversupply in the Pacific basin.

However, upswing quickly unwound once the weather eased, and tonnage again started to re-build.

In the Pacific, Platts assessment hit an all-time low at $2.85/wmt for a Capesize vessel to move 170,000 mt of iron ore from Port Hedland, Australia, to Qingdao, China, on December 24, 2015, down from $5.80/wmt seen at the start of October.

For front-haul, Platts assessment hit an all-time low at $5.20/wmt for a Capesize vessel to carry 170,000 mt iron ore from Tubarao, Brazil, to Qingdao on Janaury 28, 2016, more than half of the rate at $12.60/wmt on October 1, 2015.

Rates have barely budged in the first quarter of 2016, fluctuating within a 10% bandwidth, with the market hovering at the floor for almost all of the first quarter.

Sources said any recovery will require a correction in tonnage overhang through cold layups and scrapping, but head-owners were waiting for the other to bite the bullet first.

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