Ukrainian ports are closed and though apparently not yet hindered much by sanctions, many shipping companies have vowed to disengage from the Russian export and import markets. Many other companies are divesting or putting their activities in Russia on hold. At the same time, the EU is contemplating to follow the UK and ban Russian-owned vessels from the region’s ports.
The global economy is already suffering from increased commodity prices. Oil, wheat, and maize (all key exports from Russia and Ukraine) are trading at decade highs, at least. This will fuel further inflation that in many countries is already at its highest level in memory. Increased shipping costs due to historically high bunker prices will only add to the inflationary pressure. The increased prices may also lead to destruction of demand as consumers and businesses prioritise spending.
“The National Institute of Economic Research in the UK has estimated that the war could reduce global GDP growth by as much as 1 percentage point. No matter the specific Russia and Ukraine export developments, this will hurt growth projections for all shipping sectors,” says Niels Rasmussen, Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO.
Ukraine crisis – a net negative for the bulk market
Within Russia’s and Ukraine’s top export commodities (listed below) the two countries combined hold a global market share of more than 10% within coal, wheat, and maize. Of particular concern to global supply is the export of wheat and maize, which is mainly loaded in the Black Sea.
It is difficult to imagine that what is left of Ukraine’s 2021 harvest will be shipped any time soon and, depending on developments, the 2022 harvest may also be hit. How much of Ukraine’s export can be replaced by export from other countries remains to be seen but to the extent that it is possible it could lead to increased tonne miles demand.
Russia is a major player in both coal and wheat though for both commodities the majority is exported from Baltic and Pacific ports. None of the commodities are currently sanctioned and we believe that the Black Sea exports are at a higher risk of seeing disruptions due to lack of shipping companies’ willingness to serve the area and/or increasing shipping cost.
Top export commodities ex Russia & Ukraine 2017-2021
Share of global seaborne export
China (24%), EU (34%), Japan (13%)
China (47%), EU (39%)
Egypt (20%), Turkey (13%), Indonesia (6%)
EU (38%), China 18%), Egypt (10%)
EU (25%), China (21%), USA (10%)
“All in all, we believe that despite possibilities of increasing tonne miles demand for certain commodities, the war in Ukraine is a net negative for the bulk market driven by both a lack of commodity supply and reduced demand due to price increases,” says Rasmussen.
“Further steps to sanction some or all of Russia’s exports could cause further disruption although we believe that China may continue to be a taker for Russian commodities,” he says.
Much-awaited tanker market rebound could be delayed
Unlike the bulk market, Ukraine is not a factor in the tanker market. Russia, however, controls about 10% of all seaborne exports of both crude oil and refined products; the majority of which is exported from Black Sea ports.
The EU is the major taker of all Russia’s export and has so far taken no steps to sanction it; nor has the US White House despite pressure from Congress. In the meantime, European buyers appear to be shying away from Russian crude oil and it is being reported that as much as 70% of crude exports do not have a buyer despite being heavily discounted.
OPEC+ has, for now, decided to stick to already planned increases and crude oil price futures indicate that prices will remain above USD 100/barrel. The high prices are likely to cause demand destruction while supply shortages may also hurt shipping prospects.
“China could emerge as a buyer for Russian crude which could help alleviate some of the current global supply concerns as the EU could in turn buy more from the Middle East,” Rasmussen says.
“This could lead to increased tonne miles demand but if the high prices are sustained, overall demand would still suffer. We therefore believe that the much-awaited rebound in the tanker markets will be further delayed and be more muted than otherwise expected,” he says.
Top export commodities ex Russia & Ukraine 2017-2021
Share of global seaborne export
EU (59%), China (32%)
EU (59%), USA (34%)
EU (67%), Turkey (14%)
EU (36%), USA (15%)
EU (56%), China (13%)
Container market – earlier “return to normal” if growth is hit
Many of the largest container lines have decided to suspend bookings to and from both Ukraine and Russia despite no sanctions currently being in place. Neither Russia nor Ukraine is, however, key markets for the liners. Considering the very high global demand, the developments in the two countries should not be much of a concern for container rates or demand.
“On specific trades the loss of Russia and Ukraine volume may, however, be felt and we believe that this may be especially on some reefer trades,” says Rasmussen.
The impact of the war on the global economy and consumer confidence may however weaken growth prospects. This could lead to an earlier “return to normal” from the current elevated demand, which in turn could ease congestion in ports.
The impact, however, is likely some way off and in any case, longer-term contracts have already been signed at high rates.
Ban relating to goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol
Ban on new investments in Crimea or Sevastopol
Ban on selling, supplying, transferring, or exporting goods and technology to Crimea or Sevastopol
Ban on providing services related to tourism activities in Crimea or Sevastopol
Ban on the export of certain dual-use goods and technology to Russia
Ban relating to deep water and Artic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia
Restrictions on the export of certain energy-related equipment and technology to Russia
Arms embargo Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 introduced an embargo on the trade in arms (Art. 4).
Assets freeze and financial restrictions Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 of 5 March 2014 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Ukraine introduced an asset freeze, freezing of funds and assets of designated persons/entities (Art. 2).
Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 of 17 March 2014 expanded the scope of the asset freeze (Art. 2).
Council Regulation (EU) No 960/2014 of 8 September 2014 introduced a wide range of financial restrictions. F.inst. EU nationals and companies can not provide loans to five major Russian state-owned banks. Trade in new bonds, equity or similar financial instruments with a maturity exceeding 30 days, issued by the same banks, has been prohibited. The same restrictions have been extended to three major Russian defence companies and three major energy companies. Providing services related to the issuing of the above financial instruments, e.g. brokering, is also included in the prohibition.
Ban relating to goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 692/2014 of 23 June 2014 implemented restrictions on goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol and on the provision, directly or indirectly, of financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance, related to the import of such goods [Art. 2] with effect from 25 June 2014, subject to certain exemptions [Art. 3]. The restrictions apply not only to all Member States, but also to any vessel under the jurisdiction of a Member State.
Ban on new investments in Crimea or Sevastopol Council Regulation (EU) No 825/2014 of 30 July 2014 amended Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 692/2014 by introducing a ban on new investments related to infrastructure in the sectors of transport, telecommunications and energy and the exploitation of oil, gas and mineral reserves in Crimea and Sevastopol (Annex II) and an export ban on key equipment and technology related to those sectors (Annex III).
Ban on selling, supplying, transferring, or exporting goods and technology to Crimea or Sevastopol Council Regulation (EU) No 825/2014 of 30 July 2014 stipulates that it is prohibited the sell, supply, transfer, or export goods and technology as listed in Annex II to persons, entities or bodies in Crimea or Sevastopol, or for use in Crimea or Sevastopol. Annex II includes certain goods and technologies suited for use in the following key sectors: (i) transport; (ii) telecommunications; (iii) energy; and (iv) the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources (Art. 2b(1)).
The prohibition also applies, directly or indirectly, to technical assistance or brokering services related to the goods and technology as listed in Annex II, or related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance and use of such items to any person, entity or body in Crimea or Sevastopol or for use in Crimea or Sevastopol (Art. 2b(2)).
An exemption up until 21 March 2015 is provided to contracts concluded before 20 December 2014 (Art. 2b. (4)).
Ban on providing services related to tourism activities in Crimea or Sevastopol Council Regulation (EU) No 825/2014 of 30 July 2014 prohibits any ship* providing cruise services, to enter into or call at any port situated
in the Crimean Peninsula, except in the case of emergency. An exemption is provided to contracts concluded before 20 December 2014 (Art. 2d).
* ships flying the flag of a Member State or any ship owned and under the operational control of a Union shipowner or any ship over which a Union
operator assumed overall responsibility as regards its operation.
Ban on the export of certain dual-use goods and technology to Russia Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 introduced an export ban oncertain dual-use goods and technology to Russia or for use in Russia, if those items are or may be intended, in their entirety or in part, for military use or for a military end-user (Art. 2).
Council Regulation (EU) No 960/2014 of 8 September 2014 further strengthen the ban on exporting dual use goods and technology for military use in Russia to also include a list of nine mixed defence companies that must not receive dual use goods from the EU (Art. 1(2).)
Council Regulation (EU) No 1290/2014 of 4 December 2014 amended the restrictions (Art.1 (1)).
Ban relating to deep water and Arctic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia Council Regulation (EU) No 960/2014 of 8 September 2014 introduced a ban on certain services necessary for deep water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia may no more be supplied, for instance drilling, well testing, logging services or specialized floating vessels (Art.1 (3)).
Council Regulation (EU) No 1290/2014 of 4 December 2014 amended / replaced the restrictions (Art.1 (4)).
Restrictions on the export of certain energy-related equipment and technology to Russia Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 introduced restrictions on the export on certain energy-related equipment and technology (Annex II) to Russia or any other country, if such equipment or technology is for use in Russia (Art. 3).
Council Regulation (EU) No 1290/2014 of 4 December 2014 amended the restrictions (Art.1 (3)).
Travel ban Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014 introduced a travel ban on designated persons (Art. 1).
The Annex containing designated persons/entities introduced under Council Regulation (EU) No 208/2014 of 5 March 2014 has been amended as follows:
Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 of 17 March 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 284/2014 of 21 March 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 477/2014 of 12 May 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 753/2014 of July 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 810/2014 of 25 July 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 826/2014 of 30 July 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 859/2014 of 8 September 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 860/2014 of 8 September 2014 Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 861/2014 of 8 September 2014 Council Regulation (EU) No 1290/2014 of 4 December 2014
On 6 August 2014 the Russian President signed an Executive Order “On Applying Certain Special Economic Measures to Ensure the Security of the Russian Federation.”The Executive Order bans the import of certain agricultural products, raw materials and food products (beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products) that originate from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway which declared economic sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals and will be valid for one year.
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