Pacific Basin expands fleet as charter rates rise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 4:06am

Pacific Basin Shipping has continued last year's spending spree on vessel acquisitions despite what the company said was a weak outlook, "with moderate seasonal variations", for the dry bulk market this year.

The firm added a ninth dry bulk vessel to the eight it has agreed to buy for US$122 million since September last year.

No details of the ship or the price paid were given in the firm's first quarter trading update issued yesterday. But the company said its "strategic objective is to expand our dry bulk core fleet at attractive prices".

Six of the nine vessels have already joined the fleet while the remaining three will be delivered by the middle of this year. They comprise seven Handysize vessels of 25,000 to 39,999 deadweight tonnes and two Handymax ships of 40,000 to 64,999 dwt.

Pacific Basin, the largest Handysize operator in the world, paid an average US$15.25 million for the eight ships. It said the value of a five-year-old 32,000 dwt Handysize ship had risen to US$17 million, from US$16 million in the second half of last year.

Pacific Basin outperformed the underlying Handysize spot charter market by minimising the number of unladen voyages to load cargo.

It said average time charter equivalent earnings for its Handysize fleet was US$8,820 per day in the first quarter.

By comparison, the average daily spot rate was US$6,530 for Handysize ships, although the average daily charter rate had risen to US$8,192 by last week.

Pacific Basin said 50 per cent of the Handysize revenue days for the rest of the year had been contracted at a net US$9,500 per day.

The firm, which owned and chartered 143 Handysize vessels up to last Monday, said the Handysize market "has followed a similar pattern to last year with a weak start giving way to improved rates going into the second quarter".

Chinese imports of minor bulk cargos such as logs, soyabeans and fertiliser grew 14 per cent in the first two months of this year.

Overall, Clarkson, the British ship broker, and Barclays Research forecast that global minor bulk cargo volumes would climb to 1.46 billion tonnes, from 1.38 billion tonnes last year.