Golden Ocean Curbs Long-Term Charters as Price Gain Seen

Golden Ocean Group Ltd., the owner of ships hauling coal and iron ore led by billionaire John Fredriksen, plans to curb long-term charters for its fleet next year in anticipation of rates rebounding.

The company has 37 percent of its largest Capesize vessels available for single-cargo charters this year and 38 percent of its Panamaxes, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based owner said in a statement today. That proportion will gain at the expense of longer-term bookings starting 2014, allowing the company to benefit as the market improves, according to the statement.

Rates for Capesizes averaged below what owners need to cover running costs including crew and repairs this year, according to data from the Baltic Exchange in London and Moore Stephens LLP, a consultant tracking the industry’s expenses. Costs for Panamaxes averaged the lowest since 2002 since the start of January.

D/S Norden A/S, Europe’s largest publicly traded owner of the vessels, said May 15 it booked fewer Panamax cargoes than ships, its first bet since 2010 that rates for the vessels will rise. Greek ship owners ordered the most new Capesizes since 2008 in the first quarter.

The Baltic Dry Index slipped 0.5 percent to 822 today, staying at the lowest since March 6, according to figures from the Baltic Exchange in London. The index last climbed on May 8, the data showed.

Daily average earnings for Capesizes, the biggest carriers of iron ore and coal, lost 0.3 percent to $5,255, according to the bourse. Among the three smaller vessel types tracked by the index, Panamaxes, which carry about half as much cargo as Capesizes, fell 1.8 percent to $6,678 a day. Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, were little changed at $8,967. Handysizes, the smallest ships in the index, slipped 0.3 percent to $8,061, the lowest since May 7, the data showed.

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