Hopes that late summer would see a return in delayed demand throughout the Azov and Black Sea markets have so far been left unfounded. Grain producers are facing the continued paradox of higher prices countered with lower demand and, thus, continued delays from otherwise dependable buyers. One Azov-based owner has identified a 60% discount in current rates (ex-Azov shallow ports) vs. a year ago while the same are some 50% lower than the running five-year average. This situation is clearly unsustainable, but owners are being forced to accept unacceptable conditions amid an unprecedented demand shock and global shutdown. With standard Azov grain rates now merely US$ 1-2/mt higher than their inter-Black Sea counterparts, profits are razor-thin if even justifying the term profit. Grains of 5,000mt (46′) can fetch about US$ 15/mt from Azov to Marmara while the same cargo is unlikely to get much higher than US$ 12-13/mt ex-Kherson to Marmara. Coal trades, while sometimes able to fill the gap of missing grain business, are largely fetching even lower levels with US$ 11/mt on 5,000mt (43′) from Rostov to the Turkish Black Sea. SBM of 3-4,000mt (56′) has been fixed for US$ 12-13/mt ex-Niko to Poti, which represents the standard kind of business that owners are typically able to secure in the Black Sea at the moment.
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