Dry bulk vessel prices shoot up

Mumbai, March 26 | Updated: Mar 28 2005, 05:36am hrs
Prices of dry bulk vessels are going through the roof following the firm charter freight rates in the dry bulk segment. The average Baltic Dry Index (BDI), driven by the demand for coal and steel, has appreciated to 5,092 points at the end of third quarter. This index had graduated from 3,645 points and 4,019 points at the end of the first quarter and second quarter, respectively, in the current fiscal.

Chowgule Steamships director (finance) MP Patwardhan said, A new panamax vessel was available for $25 million three years back while today a 10-year old second hand panamax vessel is available for $40 million. There is also no yard space to place order for new dry bulk vessels and vessels currently being built in yards are changing hands at $48-49 million, Mr Patwardhan added.

In fact, the lack of ship-building space at the yard has deprived Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) from placing orders for the past few months. We are eager to place orders for six super handy max four Panamax and two capesize vessels in the dry bulk segment, SCI director (bulk carrier & tanker division) RK Mitra said.

The BDI, not far back in April 2003, was lanuguishing at a 2052. But the current spurt has seen revenues from this segment contributing substantially to the companys topline. Revenues from dry bulk vessels at SCI in 2003 constituted an average of 23% of the total turnover. It has now gradually gone to around 28% of the total turnover and infact in the current quarter could well go over 30%, Mr Mitra said.

The global active dry bulk fleet as on March 1, 2005 was 329.5 mn Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) with Indian shipping tonnage constituting just over three million DWT. GE Shipping had contracted three second hand handymax dry bulk vessels over the past one month.

Commenting on the outlook ahead, GE Shipping general manager Rajat Dutta said, Committed expansion of global mining capacities (BHP, Rio Tinto and CVRT) endorses trade fundamentals.

The net fleet addition of 16 million DWT (after normal scrapping of five million DWT) during the year at 5-6% is unlikely to soften the prices with the increasing demand from coal and steel.