During 2011 earnings by the tanker sector took a turn for the worse, and now it is feared that the bulk carrier market could be heading in the same direction. It has been reported that at least one panamax, kamsarmax or post-panamax bulk carrier has been delivered into service every day this year, which, together with 2011’s record newbuilding volumes, is having a marked impact as prices continue to fall for spot charter deals.

Many of the grain cargoes from the east coast of South America have had to be fixed on vessels ballasting from the Pacific markets. Vessels already positioned in the western hemisphere are fighting for limited transatlantic work at extremely low prices just to secure business. The classes of vessel can be summarised as follows: Panamax: typical size 225m by 32.2m by 12.9m, 38,500gt, 74,000dwt, normally gearless; Kamsarmax: 229m by 32.2m by 14.4m, 43,500gt, 82,100dwt; Post Panamax: the Panama Canal is being widened and deepened at present, and the rebuild includes new larger locks. Post-Panamax designs will be able to transit the canal after the upgrade.

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