With the ongoing economic malaise across Europe and the corona-related cargo demand shock still holding freights to historically low levels, owners continue to struggle to find new business in the Baltic and North Sea trades. Freights remain relatively unchanged as they have since the start of the month following a brief surge in demand on the monthly switchover. Southbound freights from ECUK and ARAG into North France remain at about €18/mt on general cargoes while eastbound rates from WCUK to ARAG are holding to €10/mt at best with single digits of €9/mt (and even lower) more likely for general cargoes. Single digit cargoes have also been seen on aggregate shipments in the North-South Baltic trade via Norway. Northbound shipments ex-N.France to the German Baltic have seen even more pressure in recent weeks with some owners have relented to €10/mt on 5,000mt cargoes whereas they would have pushed for nearly double that level at the start of the year. Westward Baltic rates from Balticum to ARAG are flat in the mid teens with some volatility seen between owner and charterer offers by as much as €17/mt from the former versus €13/mt from the latter. Owners say that the current situation is not sustainable but have only the cold comfort of common cause with the rest of European shipping folk.
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