The ClarkSea, the overall day rate charter index covering seaborne transportation (tankers, bulk carriers, containerships and gas carriers together representing over 80% of global shipping capacity), increased 30% y-o-y to reach an all-time annual high across 2022 of $37,253 / day (the index was started in 1990). There were divergent trends across the major shipping segments:
The container sector began the year at record levels (with freight and charter rates peaking at around 5-6 times start 2020 levels) but experienced a sharp correction in 2H as trade volumes and congestion unwound. Although charter rates remain well above 2020 levels for the moment, freight rates have returned to start 2020 levels.
Rates generally eased back in 2022 amid pressure on demand and easing congestion, with average bulk carrier earnings falling 24% y-o-y to $20,478/day. Rates were generally more resilient in the smaller sizes where rate levels remained fairly ‘healthy’ for much of the year; average Supramax trip earnings fell 14% to $23,467/day in 2022.
The market saw significant improvement through 2022, benefitting from the redistribution of Russian exports / European imports as a result of the Ukraine conflict and the impact of direct sanctions on tonnage, as well as improved global oil demand and supply ‘post-Covid’. Tanker earnings averaged $40,766/day, more than four times the 30-year low of $7,127/day recorded in 2021. Trends were especially strong in the mid-sized crude and products segments, with VLCC earnings averaging $23,885/day (up from c.$3,000/day in 2021), Aframax earnings averaging a record $55,967/day (up 579% in 2021).
Day Rates reached all-time highs, with short term spot rates and 1 yr TC rates both averaging around $130,000/day in 2022 for a 160k cbm unit (spot rates peaking at c.$450,000/day in November), amid a focus on energy security (particularly in Europe).
Term rates rose firmly through 2022, benefitting from reduced competition from swing tonnage amid the very strong clean products market. The 1yr TC for a 19,999 dwt ship reached $21,500/day by the end of the year, up from $13,250/day at the start of the year.
Rates have hit all time highs, on the back of a ‘post-Covid’ rebound in car trade, a boost to vessel demand from shifting trade flows and ongoing congestion (see our recent review). By end 2022 the 1yr TC rate for a 6,500 ceu PCTC stood at $105,000/day, up from c.$20,000/day in early 2021.
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