Congestion at major Brazilian ports is fuelling strength in the dry bulk market, with more than 100 bulkers waiting to load either iron ore or grains. There are about 56 mainly ore carriers at or near Ponta da Madeira, while 54 bulkers, mostly Panamaxes, are waiting to load soyabeans and grains at Santos port, the country’s largest, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data. Several vessels have been waiting for more than a month.

The vessel Tong Ying (IMO: 9717163) has been in Santos anchorage since February 22, while the Christina B. (IMO: 9304162) arrived on February 25, Lloyd’s List Intelligence data shows. The vessel Xin Feng (IMO: 9537628) has been waiting since February 27, while the vessel SSI Excellent (IMO: 9693757) has been in the queue since March 1. The vessel Mynika (IMO: 9525613) arrived in Ponta da Madeira’s inner anchorage on February 25, while Cape Race (IMO: 9601728) entered the area on March 1, the data shows.  

While some vessels wait in a queue, others have reached port and are loading. The 76,155 dwt SITC Huangshan (IMO: 9642497), which arrived in Santos anchorage on February 27, called at the port on March 25 to pick up its cargo of linseed and grains. Likewise, the 80,650 dwt Aeolian Heritage (IMO: 9483542) berthed this week for its soyabean and grains cargo, according to the Santos Port Authority. Meanwhile, the vessel Zheng Run (IMO: 9593816) arrived at Santos on March 26 after reaching anchorage on February 24. The delays in loading have added to the bullish sentiment in the dry bulk market.

According to Maritime Strategies International, an uptick in congestion “can quickly absorb tonnage and remains a major underlying reason behind rapid earnings growth this year”. The London-based consultancy said that congestion in Brazil was currently at “very high levels” with waiting times averaging 25 days at some of the worst-affected ports. A delayed soyabean crop was overlapping with a rise in sugar exports, it said, adding that it expects the congestion would likely remain elevated in the coming weeks.

Brokerage Braemar ACM echoed the notion that Brazil currently had some of the most congested anchorages. “With grains volumes starting to ramp up, we have seen a surge in vessel arrivals to meet this supply,” it said in a note. So far this month, about 10.3m tonnes have been loaded, the highest volume in the last four months.

Arrow research saw congestion reaching the highest level in 10 months, with the surge most notable this year, as a slowdown in iron ore exports had caused the vessel build-up around Ponta da Madeira. “A flood of vessels arrived at Brazil a bit early, but now congestion is likely around a peak as the fast export pace clears though the line-up,” it said. Indeed, a number of vessels were at Ponta da Madeira port, while several more were due at Itaqui port in the coming fortnight, Lloyd’s List Intelligence data showed. 

With additional reporting by Inderpreet Walia in Singapore.