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HANSA 12-2020

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Märkte | Markets Container market back to its heyday Freight and charter rates continue rallying in sync as liner resources are stretched to the limit. Last feeders in Europe coming out of lay-up, writes Michael Hollmann Sure enough, some of the increases in our market compass make you rub your eyes in disbelief. While daily life and business activities in Europa are heavily constrained by second lock-downs, the rallye in container shipping continues as if there’s no tomorrow! All the indications are that trade volumes have kept trending up during the past weeks after official data for September showed that traffic is firmly on the growth path again. According to CTS data, global export liftings during the third quarter expanded by 3.0% yearon-year after a -10.0% drop during the second quarter. 12% growth year-on-year Viele weitere Kennzahlen & Raten auf hansa-online.de: Container, Tanker, Bulker, MPP, Shortsea, Umschlag, Bunker & Öl … und vieles mehr Momentum grew even stronger in September, with main lane trades recording +12.0% growth year-on-year. Unbelievable but true: data suggests that transpacific liftings from Asia to North America jumped by 31% in September while volumes ex Asia to Europe were up a more moderate but still very respectable +8.0% year-onyear. There is no clear-cut explanation but most analysts reckon that growth is powered by a combination of restocking across the economy and seasonal demand growth ahead of the Xmas shopping season. Liftings data for October will only be released at the very end of November. But anecdotal reports from freight forwarding companies and current vessel activity suggest that the cargo boom continues. Based on idle fleet data from BRS Alphaliner, the world container ship fleet is basically fully employed. As per 9 November there were just 92 container ships »inactive« (1.5% of global TEU capacity), however most of these were already on standby for their next scheduled assignment, barred from trading due to financial/political reasons or in drydock for scrubber retrofits. The number of tramp/non-operatorowned ships that are still available for charter is minimal although accurate data is hard to come by. Alphaliner counted 17 spot vessels worldwide as per mid-November while a leading Hamburg-based broker estimated 23 ships to be available within 14 days. With tonnage demand from operators still brisk, the logical result was a marked shift from »spot« to »forward« fixing. Panamax and even feeder 1,700 TEU ships were hired or extended for laycan dates as far as ahead as January. Charter rates for the 1,100-4,250 TEU segments as captured by the New ConTex pushed up by more than 26% month-onmonth. We cannot recall any such increase since inception of the New ConTex in 2007. In absolute terms, average charter rates are at their highest since 2008 now except for the feeder classes that were joining the rallye with some delay. Over the past 4 weeks, brokers reported gains from 500-1,500 $/day for feeder ships below 2.000 TEU to 5,000 $/day for standard panamax vessels. Feeders heading out of lay-up Even the Continent/Mediterranean feeder markets, encumbered by excess tonnage well into September, are now on a straight upward trend. Rates for ice-class 1,000 TEU vessels rose from mid 5,000’s to mid 6,000’s €/day within a couple of weeks, deals above 7,000 €/day are waiting to be confirmed. In a sign of better times, the last few laidup ships are now getting mobilised. Two of three Vega container ships laid up in Scotland are joining the trade again, with the 966 TEU »Vega Hercules« joining Unifeeder at 5,900 €/day for 5-7 months and sister Vega Scorpio heading to Flushing for a Continent/Caribs round trip under Seatrade charter at 7,950 $/day. Meanwhile forwarders are reporting very tight slot capacity on trades ex Far East and even tighter empty container availability especially in South China. »We expect the market to remain strong until after Chinese New Year,« said Christoph Baumeister, Senior Trade Manager Asia/ ISC-Europe at Flexport in Hamburg. Recent spot rate increases were most spectacular on trades within Asia and from Far East to Europe, the Mediterranean, Australasia and South America. The combination of strong volumes and reduced productivity in terminal and landside operations due to anti-coronameasures also sparked some serious congestion, especially in UK ports, causing several ships to slip off schedule. There has also been a speedy recovery in the European short sea market for dry/ breakbulk cargoes since October (see interview with H.C.’s Mark Harrison). The HC freight index surged by 15% monthon-month while the Istfix vessel earnings index published in Istanbul is up 21%.n VIEWPOINT It’s unlikely that the »normal« will return Seasonal demand and a backlog of business from earlier this year have set freights and vessel earnings in the European short sea sector on an upward trajectory. However, with the Brexit upon us and forward booking levels muted, the outlook for 2021 remains uncertain, says Mark Harrison, co-founder and chartering director of UK shipbroker H.C. Shipping & Chartering. The short sea market has finally picked up. Is it the peak already? Mark Harrison: The short sea market is quite cyclical. Historically the annual peak consistently falls around the second half of November/first half of December, so in theory there is a limited window for further advancement at this point. Irrespective of Covid-19 and Brexit, the Christ- 8 HANSA – International Maritime Journal 12 | 2020

Märkte | Markets Orders & Sales New Orders Container Cosco subsidiary OOCL placed an order for seven 23,000 TEU vessels at NACKS and DACKS for a reported price of 155 mill. $ per vesseI. In addition Japanese Nissen Kaiun ordered up to ten 3,600 TEU units at 30 mill. $ each with chartering commitment by Maersk. Secondhand Sales On the secondhand market a significant increase in activity could be observed during the past weeks. Brokers report that the pre-corona level should be reached in the third quarter. Particularly in focus was the German fleet. MSC bought six former E.R.- units. Other sellers from Germany were, amongst others, Claus-Peter Offen, Rambow, NSC and Thomas Schulte. Hamburg-based Leonhardt & Blumberg was both acquiring and selling vessels (pls see separate article on page 28). Demolition Sales Container shipping was recently not significantly affected by the slight increase in scrap sales. For example, »EM Athens« (2,506 TEU) or the Germany-built »Al Naser« (619 TEU) were sold. Since the beginning of the year, 76 ships with 184,000 TEU have been disposed, an increase of 14% year-on-year. However, the market flattened out again recently. 700 600 500 400 300 Container ship t / c market 19.05.20 Container freight market WCI Shanghai-Rotterdam 2,835 $/FEU + 29.7 % WCI Shanghai-Los Angeles 4,030 $/FEU - 0.2% Dry cargo / Bulk 19.11.20 Month on Month646 • + 26.4 % Baltic Dry Index 1,134 - 19.0 % Time charter averages / spot: $/d Capesize 5TC average 11,858 - 36.0 % Panamax 4TC average (82k) 11,930 + 5.6 % Supramax 10TC average (58k) 10,061 - 5.9 % Handysize 7TC average (38k 10,761 + 0.2 % Forward / ffa front month (Dec 20): $/d Capesize 180k 12,891 - 31.7 % Panamax 74k 11,792 - 4.1 % MPP November ’19 $ 7,578 TMI Toepfer’s Multipurpose Index November ’20 $ 6,729 12,500 tdw MPP/HL »F-Type« vessel for a 6-12 months TC Tankers Shortsea / Coaster Norbroker 3,500 dwt earnings est. 3,000 + 1.7 % HC Shortsea Index 15.79 + 14.8 % ISTFIX Shortsea Index 595 + 21.2 % Norbroker: spot t/c equivalent assessment basis round voyage North Sea/Baltic; HC Shipping & Chartering index tracking spot freights on 5 intra-European routes; Istfix Istanbul Freight Index covering spot freight ex Black Sea Bunkers COMPASS Baltic Dirty Tanker Index 431 + 1.6 % Baltic Clean Tanker Index 345 + 1.8 % VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $/t 343 + 10.6 % MGO Rotterdam $/t 360 + 8.4 % Forward / Swap price Q1 / 2021 VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $/t 322 + 9.5 % Data per 19.11.2020, month-on-month © mph Mark Harrison H.C. Shipping & Chartering mas and New Year holidays always create something of a hiatus and a loss of momentum after which it’s usually unclear exactly how the market will re-set in January. That’s obviously even more relevant in 2020, and there’s an argument that the aforementioned factors may already be driving a final push after which a slowdown towards the holidays could begin earlier than usual. A seasonal rally was not necessarily to be expected in the »corona« year. What kind of cargoes/trades are driving the recovery? Harrison: A recovery was by no means assured and the extent has certainly been encouraging but still needs to be viewed in the context of the year as a whole. It’s difficult to identify specific drivers but we have seen an increase in recyclables/ renewables as well as raw materials for the construction sector, including steels. Additionally, grains/feedstuffs have also picked up significantly. Rather than one specific driver it’s arguably a combination of the lockdown backlog and gradually learning to work with and around the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Brexit is approaching fast now. How will it impact the short sea trade? Harrison: The burning question! The short answer is: nobody knows. This is an untested scenario and even now we still don’t know what form it will take. Deal or no deal? If there is a deal, what will the parameters be? How can anyone realistically assess an impact on that basis? Undoubtedly there will be disruption to UK import/export and winners and losers on both sides, but ultimately the need and the desire to trade should prevail. Charterers and owners are resourceful and hopefully the importance of finding solutions will override the difficulties and the politics. Q1 and Q2 could be bumpy but some stability should follow eventually. What are the perspectives for 2021? Harrison: In current circumstances the obvious answer would be uncertain. 2020 has been (and continues to be) uniquely challenging for everyone and it’s unlikely the »normal« we once knew will ever return. This has had a huge impact on sentiment and expectations for the future which is reflected in forward bookings for 2021 many of which are at levels no higher than 2020 but also many of which are down by anywhere from 5-10%. We appear to be in a transitional phase of consolidation rather than progression but, with positive news on workable vaccines and some experience under our belts, perhaps cautiously optimistic could also be the answer.mph HANSA – International Maritime Journal 12 | 2020 9

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