Oldendorff Carriers GmbH, a Luebeck, Germany-based freight trader, was the largest charterer of ships used to transport minerals and grains in 2012, booking more vessels than the biggest commodities traders and miners.
Oldendorff hired 273 dry-bulk vessels in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg today from Clarkson Plc, the largest shipbroker. Rio Tinto Group, the second-biggest exporter of iron ore, ranked number two with 233 vessels, of which 223 were voyages to ship 35.2 million metric tons of iron ore, the data show. Oldendorff’s charters included 6.1 million tons of shipments of the steel-making raw material.
Shipping rates as measured by the Baltic Dry Index averaged 920 points last year, the lowest since 1986, as the fleet expanded at more than twice the pace of demand. Vessel supply grew 11 percent while seaborne trade climbed 5 percent to almost 4 billion tons, according to the shipbroker’s data. Cargoes included 1.11 billion tons of iron ore, 1.06 billion tons of coal, and 350 million tons of grains and soybeans.
Cargill Inc., a Minneapolis-based commodities trader that is the biggest closely held U.S. company, booked 231 ships, making it the third-largest by number, the data show.
Oldendorff was also the largest charterer in 2011, booking 392 ships, followed by Cargill with 301, and South Korean ship owner and operator STX Pan Ocean Co. The number of single-voyage bookings reported last year for STX Pan Ocean fell by 52 percent to 114, Clarkson data show.
Oldendorff controls a fleet of more than 400 vessels shipping 200 million tons a year, according to its website.
Cargill’s transport unit operates a fleet of more than 350 vessels, according to its website. In 2011, the company was going to trade almost 200 million tons of dry freight during the year to May 31 of that year, Andy James, Cargill Ocean Transportation’s former head of derivatives, said at the time. Forbes ranked Cargill the largest closely held U.S. company by revenue in a 2012 survey.
The tally of single-voyage, or spot, bookings covered the four largest vessel types totaling a fleet now at 9,495 ships. Not all are reported. Of the 4,716 vessels hired last year, 18 percent didn’t list a charterer, according to Clarkson. In 2011, a company wasn’t named for 16 percent of the 5,472 charters.
Vale SA, the world’s second-largest miner that is building its own fleet of the biggest carriers, chartered 69 vessels last year. BHP Billiton Ltd., the third-largest producer, booked 125 in 2012, compared to 201 the prior year, according to Clarkson.