Three key Russian ports in the Gulf of Finland are set to expand ice class restrictions later in February as ice keeps building in the region, according to a Russian shipping agent Wednesday.
Ice class restrictions have meant that freight rates in the Baltic have been pushed higher in the past weeks as charterers have fewer appropriate vessels to choose from, leaving the Handysize Baltic-UK Continent route for 30,000 mt cargoes at a 13-month high.
The port of St Petersburg will from February 24 demand approaching tankers have ice class 1D or higher to navigate by own power, while those without any ice class will still be able to navigate with ice breaker assistance. The same restrictions were imposed for the port of Ust-Luga on February 10.
The port of Vyborg has a ban on vessels with no ice class from February 21, while those with class 1D or higher will need ice breaker assistance, and only those with 1C or higher are allowed to navigate by own power.
The port of Vysotsk will impose the same restrictions as Vyborg on February 22, and Primorsk have have the same rules as Vysotsk and Vyborg in place since January 26.
One broker said the new restrictions probably wouldn’t affect the market much as the majority of Handysize tankers in the area have ice class 1B, and only three or four have 1C.
Sea News, February 19