Ocean Shipping Rates Increasing

Written by Sandy Williams

Earnings for the shipping market are bullish right now according to the Dec. 4 MID-SHIP Report, with continued optimism for next year’s market. Average earnings for forward freight agreements in 2014 are expected to increase by 13 percent for Handysize, 18 percent for Supramax, 22 percent for Panamax and 28 percent for the Cape market.

MID-SHIP continues to express concern over the number of orders for new vessels, worrying that supply could exceed demand again in another two years.

The Panama Canal Authority says there will be an additional three month delay in the completion of a third set of locks for the canal. Traffic will begin in the Atlantic locks March 31, 2015 and in the Pacific locks June 30, 2015.

Rates for shipping were up in the last week. Average earnings for a cape size vessel jumped $10,000 to approximately $27,000 on Dec. 3 in the Capesize market. Winter weather and heavy congestion in the North China iron ore ports has pushed cape market prices up quickly in the past two weeks.

In the Panamax market, a transatlantic round trip voyage jumped from $14,000 last week to more than $16,000 due to the hike in rates for the Cape sector and a shortage of tonnage in the Atlantic basin.

The average time charter in the Supramax market is now $15,917, a rise of more than a $1000 in the last two weeks. The Handysize market also saw rate increases as shippers scramble to cover cargoes before Christmas.

US Barge Traffic

Barge volume is 15 percent higher than 2012 levels. It is estimated 907 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans over the last week and 67 ocean going vessels would be loaded with grain from the lower Mississippi River. River conditions are considered good.

The Big River Coalition is supporting legislation to increase the Mississippi River deep-draft channel to 50 feet to match the future Panama Canal expansion. The project would cost about $300 million but would allow an increase in cargo valued at over $25.25 billion in the first eight years. Funding for the project would come from the Harbor Maintenance Tax fund.


The price of diesel fuel increased for 3.9 cents to $3.883/gallon. This is the second consecutive weekly increase following 11 weeks of no change. Diesel is 14.4 cents below prices a year ago. Fuel surcharges, according the Department of Energy, will range between $.59 -$.61 per one way miles.

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