Ship operators hopeful for surge in Baltic rates as ice thickens

28 January 2013 16:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Owners with ice-class vessels around the Baltic Sea remain hopeful for an upturn in freight rates, as freezing temperatures continue to thicken ice around ports in the region, sources said on Monday.

According to port agents, between 5-55cm of ice is present in the Baltic Sea.

Ice breakers are currently in operation in areas where the ice is at its thickest, in the Bay of Bothnia, Sea of Bothnia, and eastern Gulf of Finland.

Cold weather has already seen a requirement for ice-class vessels at ports including Pori, Naantali and Porvoo.

This has led to an increase in freight rates, as restrictions on the type of vessel permitted to enter the Baltic has discounted the significant amounts of open, idle tonnage in the region.

According to ICIS data, a 2,000 tonne parcel of easy chemicals travelling from Kotka to Rotterdam would pay between $48-51/tonne.

With colder temperatures expected to arrive in the Baltic in the next few weeks, operators expect ice-class vessel restrictions to be placed across the majority of ports in the region, placing further upward pressure on freight rates. 

 “After months of having to endure low freight rates, this news is most welcome,” one owner said.

Freight rates across the majority of routes remain at low levels, as ongoing concerns over the global economy continues to suppress demand for the shipment of chemicals.

With forecasts predicting colder temperatures over the coming month, hopes remain high among ship operators that rates will increase significantly.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Neha Popat
+44 208 652 3214

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