The start of 2015 saw freight rates for Capesize bulk carriers plunge to a six-year low, and brokers said they could fall even further. Many owners of such vessels anchored them off South Africa, Singapore and Taiwan, as there was not enough cargo to utilise them.

Some European owners were choosing to anchor vessels rather than lease their ships at a loss. One set of data produced showed that charter rates for a voyage from Australia to China are currently around $3,000 per day, which is less than half of the daily operating costs for a vessel.

Rates on the Brazil-China route were the lowest since January 2009, while charter rates for the Western Australia- China route was the lowest since December 2008. Rates in the smaller Panamax market were also lower, with owners declining to move ships at the current rates. Rates could increase during the year, but not many owners are optimistic, and it seems more vessels will go to anchor or lay-up. RC

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