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Panamax Fleet Slows Down to Haul More

Throughout the first six months of 2022, the Panamax Dry Bulk fleet of vessels between 68,000MT and 85,000MT of deadweight performed on par with the quantities it carried throughout H1 2021. Our Trade Flows data indicates that Panamaxes discharged just over 440m MT of Dry Bulk cargoes between January and June. In July, however, commodities transported by the Panamax fleet measured at over 82.8m MT, registering 7.9% month-over-month and 7.6% year-over-year increases. The same trend was maintained throughout August which saw a virtually identical performance with more than 82.8m MT unloaded off Panamaxes worldwide. The amount carried each month comes within 1.2% of the absolute record set by the Panamax fleet in October 2021, when 83.8m MT of Dry Bulk were carried across the globe. This makes July and August of 2022 the second- and third-most prolific months on record for Panamax vessels.

panamax-laden-speeds

Further analysis of the AIS data reveals that the speed of the Panamax laden voyages has been decreasing over the last two months, averaging 11.24 knots in July and 11.18 knots in August. These represent 3.2% and 3.9% year-over-year decreases, respectively, with the August value registering the lowest average monthly speed measured so far in 2022. The last time when the fleet's speed averaged lower in a month was in March 2021. It also meant that the 1200+ laden voyages completed per month in July and August averaged an extra day at sea, spending just under 22 days sailing between loading and discharging ports post-June.

panamax-voyages-cargo

Commodity-wise, Steam Coal voyages peaked over the past two months. Traditionally the most commonly carried cargo aboard Panamaxes, Steam Coal had registered a 3.5% year-over-year decrease in H1 2022. January in particular saw the fleet discharge less than 19m MT of this commodity for a 36% year-over-year drop. This also meant that Steam Coal voyages represented just over 26% of all Panamax laden legs, whereas they usually stand at over 35%. With over 33.2m MT discharged in July and over 32m MT in August, the Panamax fleet registered 16.4% and 3.9% year-over-year increases respectively. Both months also set records as most- and second-most Steam Coal carried by Panamax vessels. Grain voyages for the fleet registered marginal increases since the start of the year, while Iron Ore carried has decreased by 1.7% so far in 2022. Meanwhile, Panamaxes carried over 21.4m MT of Agricultural Products and 9.8m MT of Fertilizers so far this year, for 10% and 30% respective year-over year increases.

panamax-voyages-origin

With Steam Coal at its absolute peak, it's unsurprising that completed Panamax voyages originating from Indonesian ports were also on the rise. While they registered a 12.5% year-over-year decrease throughout H1 2022 due to particularly weak January and February, Panamax cargoes loaded in Indonesia increased by 2.8% in July and 7% in August year-over-year. With over 19.3m MT discharged in August alone, this set a new record improving over the previous one of June 2021 by over 3%. Panamax voyages originating from Australia also remained near peak values over the past two months, with the 12.8m MT in July falling just short of the record set in January 2022. Loadings from Brazil also increased so far in 2022, with the 94m MT transported since January registering an 8.5% year-over-year gain.

panamax-voyages-destination

While China remains the most common destination of Panamax vessels, Dry Bulk carried by the fleet in recent months has been decreasing. With less than 194m MT discharged in China so far in 2022, this meant a 13.4% year-over-year drop. It also meant that less than 32% of all Panamax voyages were headed for China since the start of the year, whereas that percentage stood at over 37.5% during the same period of last year. Over 64m MT or about 10.5% of all cargo aboard Panamaxes was carried to India during the first eight months of 2022 for a 20.4% year-over-year increase. Japan, South Korea, and other Asian importers combined saw Panamax vessels discharge over 206m MT of Dry Bulk discharged at their ports. This meant an 8% year-over-year increase and that 34% of all cargoes carried by Panamaxes were headed to the remaining Asian importers. Voyages to Europe also increased by 15% year-over-year since the start of 2022 with over 61m MT of cargo carried by the fleet.

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