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What a difference a year makes! At the end of 2021, container ships were enjoying a historically strong market and freight and time charter rates had yet to peak. At the same time, dry bulk ships were seeing multi-year high rates slipping away, although still enjoying better returns than in previous years. However, tanker ships were seemingly still stuck in a COVID market rut without any immediate hopes for a strong comeback.
Despite floods in November, the Australian wheat production estimate for the 2022/23 marketing year (July 2022 to June 2023) has been increased by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Australian wheat exports could rise 9.8% this marketing year driven by strong harvests and strained global supplies.
From mid-2020, global container export volumes saw strong growth, and combined with increasing port congestion it caused supply chain challenges and historically high liner operator financial results which have been the norm since. In September 2022, however, container volumes dropped below volumes recorded in the same month in 2019 for the first time since mid-2020 and statistics just released by Container Trade Statistics have confirmed the trend.
On 18 November, India’s government removed export tariffs on iron ore and some intermediary steel products. However, this was not enough to keep domestic ship demolition prices from dropping to USD 525 per Light Displacement Tonnage (LDT) at the end of November, 7.9% lower than at the end of October.
On 8 June 2022, the European Union (EU) decided to impose a ban on seaborne imports of Russian crude oil and oil products. The ban on crude oil will take effect on 5 December and by then the EU must have found new suppliers and Russia must find new buyers.
According to BIMCO estimates from the upcoming Dry Bulk Shipping Market Overview and Outlook report, deliveries of bulk carriers should drop to 23.8 million DWT in 2024. The sector’s orderbook currently adds up to 66.7 million DWT, a mere 6.9% of the bulker fleet, the lowest ratio since at least 1996.
In September 2022, head-haul and regional export volumes were down 9.3% y/y according to Container Trade Statistics. Head-haul trades fell 15.5% whereas regional trades were down 0.7%. At the same time, volumes were 0.2% lower than in September 2019. The volume decline represented the first month since June 2020 to see lower volumes compared with the same month in 2019 and could be a warning that laid up ships and further freight rate reductions are on the horizon.
High energy prices in Europe have shifted aluminium production to China. Due to China’s increasingly depleted bauxite reserves, this shift has resulted in an increase in bauxite shipments, benefitting the capesize segment. Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, accounts for around half of traded volumes and has seen a 14.9% increase in bauxite shipments so far in 2022.
Excluding intra-EU trade, the European Union’s average monthly clean oil product imports amounted to 10.0 million tonnes in 2019 but declined to 9.3 million tonnes in 2020 and 2021. Due to the high import volumes in July to October, the 2022 year-to-date average monthly volumes have reached 10.3 million tonnes, exceeding 2019 volumes.
As a part of European Union sanctions against Russia, the block banned coal imports from Russia starting 10 August. About two months have passed and Russia has struggled to redirect its coal exports, with export volumes down 7.0% y/y in this period and down 5.0% year to date.