Greeks playing leading role in dry bulk market


The chief executives of the US-listed shipping companies referred to the course of the markets on the occasion of the second quarter and first half financial results announcements.

Their estimates come at a time when the freight market of bulk carriers is moving sluggishly. At the same time, the tanker industry is experiencing a small correction, but freight rates remain at particularly high levels, while the fundamentals look favorable.

On the other hand, the pace of containerships remains sluggish, while the order book runs the risk of oversupply. Finally, the LPG tanker market has recorded a strong and durable rally since last year despite the forecasts of many analysts who expected a decline this year.

Encouraging fundamentals in dry cargo

The “Greeks” are playing a leading role in the dry bulk carrier market. “Global demand for dry bulk cargoes continues to be strong and given the improving macroeconomic climate and favorable supply dynamics, we expect freight rates to increase in the second half of the year when trade rises seasonally,” the CEO of Star Bulk Carriers, Petros Pappas, commented.

The CEO of Danaos Corp. John Coustas also commented on the positive prospects of the sector. The company recently decided to make an investment opening in bulk carriers, through the acquisition of shares in Eagle Bulk, as well as the acquisition of five capesize ships. “We believe the long-term fundamentals are very positive. The order book is at historically low levels and fleet growth is expected to be significantly limited in the coming years when demand recovers,” he noted.

The data released by the management of Diana Shipping, headed by Semiramis Paleos, are rather interesting. As the management said, citing data from Clarksons, demand per tonne-mile is estimated to expand by 2.5% in 2024, while fleet growth is expected to be less than 2%, due to the slow rate of ship deliveries and perhaps the increased ship sales for scrap.

“Since the beginning of the year, demand per tonne-mile has strengthened by more than 7%, for the main raw materials of iron ore, coal and bauxite. However, the freight market has underperformed,” Seanergy Maritime Holdings President and CEO Stamatis Tsantanis underlined. He attributed the trend in freight rates to the easing of port congestion to historically low levels, which increased tonnage supply in the market. Tsantanis, however, believes that “as factors affecting supply begin to smooth out, I expect freight rates to be more reflective of healthy demand conditions.”

“Although geopolitical uncertainties remain, the macroeconomic picture improved during the second quarter, with inflation easing in several countries and many analysts positively revising their forecasts for the path of the economy,” EuroDry President and CEO Aristides Pittas said, adding that “dry cargo trade flows increased, particularly in iron ore and coal.”

On his part, the CEO and CFO of Castor Maritime, Petros Panagiotidis, underlined: “We believe the fundamentals in dry cargo remain healthy given the historically low order book and the expected recovery of the Chinese economy.”

“Sustainable” rally in tankers

“The outlook for the market remains favorable,” Imperial Petroleum’s CEO, Haris Vafias, commented, adding that the company will use this momentum to develop the company’s fleet.

“We believe that the strong environment in the market will remain sustainable during 2023 and beyond,” stated the CEO of Performance Shipping – interests of the Palios family, headed by the chairman of the board, Aliki Paliou – Andreas Michalopoulos. The company presented data showing demand per tonne-mile will rise 7.8% this year, supported by strong Chinese demand for crude oil imports, and changes in trade patterns following the Russian-Ukrainian war, which led to longer distance travel. Fleet supply, in terms of tonnage (dwt), is estimated to grow by 2.1% this year.

The message of the President and CEO of Pyxis Tankers, Valentis Valentis, who has a fleet of product tankers was also positive. “In the near term, we expect volatility to continue, but we expect freight rates to remain above five-year average levels due to modest inventories of refined petroleum products in various locations worldwide, as well as the impact of the price cap on Russian product sea freight from the G-7 and the European Union,” he noted. “Despite lingering concerns about a slowdown in global economic activity, additional OPEC+ oil production cuts, tighter monetary policies, high inflation and a volatile geopolitical environment, supply-side fundamentals are creating a positive outlook supported by constant volumes and longer sailing distances,” the shipowner added.

 “Thorn” the orderbook on containerships

The CFO of Costamare, owned by Kostis Konstantakopoulos, Grigoris Zikos, outlined the current climate in the container ship market. “The freight market has weakened, but freight rates remain at healthy levels. The order book, however, is still the main threat to the market,” he noted.

The President and CEO of Euroseas, Aristidis Pittas, referred to specific numbers. One-year charters rose in the first half of the second quarter, but are down about 15% year-to-date compared with mid-May highs, he noted. “Fares are 75% lower than last year, but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels,” he added. Regarding the outlook for the industry, he said that the rest of 2023 and 2024 remain uncertain, based on trends in the supply and demand balance. “We have good news on the economic front as it appears that the attack on inflation through rate hikes has worked without causing a recession, at least in advanced economies. No doubt stronger economic growth is positive for demand in the container shipping trade,” Pittas explained. However, he also highlighted two factors of concern, on the one hand the geopolitical uncertainties and on the other hand the large order book.

Executive President of Global Ship Lease, Giorgos Giouroukos, was more optimistic, focusing on the prospects of small and medium-sized containerships. “Market activity remains moderate by historical standards, with limited available capacity, and idle tonnage hovering around 1% at the end of the quarter. Although this tight liquidity and current macroeconomic uncertainty make it difficult to predict the course of the market in the coming quarters, the charters agreed in the second quarter showed some stability in amounts favorable compared to those that dominated the market before the pandemic,” he pointed out. “Mid-sized and smaller vessels, such as those that make up our fleet, form the backbone of global liner networks, and we remain active in discussions with them for additional opportunities to expand our charter coverage,” Giouroukos added.

Rally in LPG carriers

The factors that pushed the charter market of LPG transport ships to the heights were cited by the management of Dorian LPG, interests of Yiannis Hatzipatera, in the context of the announcement of the financial results.

“The tight supply-demand balance in VLGCs and disruptions in logistics, including delays in the Panama Canal, have kept freight rates firmly above five-year levels,” the shipping company noted. In fact, although 13 new VLGCs were delivered internationally during the second quarter of the year, the impact on the market was quite limited.

The CEO of Toro Corp. (spin-off of Castor Maritime), Petros Panagiotidis, spoke of a “very promising” industry. The company recently made an investment opening in LPG carriers, through four ships.



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