Modest Demand Rally in Baltic Coasters (1 July 2020)

Northern European coaster business—and indeed freight rates—have fallen to such lows that any mi­nor positive change in demand can be welcomed as a recovery. This seems to be the case, ironically during a historically lull period, for Baltic and North Sea-based short sea vessels. Charterers have been seeking more vessels out for July dates as lockdown con­ditions continue to ease around the Continent. There has certainly been nothing dramatic to point at, but the fact that any growth in inquiry is hap­pening makes for big news in this long slumbering sector. As such, owners are seeking premiums over last-done rates, and there are signs that next week could well see further gains as well. Trans-Baltic freights from the Baltic States to ARAG are seen fetching high teens again instead of the EUR 15/mt range general cargo freight of mid-June. Short trips between WCUK and ARAG are rumoured to have fixed EUR 10/mt on cargoes of 3,000mt compared to EUR 9/mt that was obtainable a week before. Southbound freights from Ireland to the western Med are being reported at EUR 20/mt, some EUR 2/mt higher than two weeks before. The extent and magnitude of this upswing remains to be seen, but owners are hopeful for the first time in some time.

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