Roaring Bangladesh economy a boost to Asian dry bulk shipping traffic

10 Feb 2020 11:28 AM
Bangladesh is growing to be a magnet for dry bulk shipping in Asia as its economy continues to boom, maintaining its status as the “fastest-growing” economy in the eastern hemisphere.

With a GDP growth rate of 8.1% in 2019 and forecast to expand by another 8% this season, in line with the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh’s demand for dry bulk commodities has burgeoned, successfully drawing a big dry bulk shipping traffic to its shores.

The quantity of Supramax-class bulkers hauling assorted cargoes such has thermal coal, slay, clinker and aggregate stones among others, which have called at Bangladesh’s premier seaport of Chittagong has a lot more than doubled in 2019 compared with 2018.

According to cFlow, Platts trade-flow software, 183 Supramax ships called at Chittagong in 2019, that is a 126% increase from the 81 vessels that called at the port over 2018.

“There is a lot of construction material that's being imported - a variety of slag, clinker, aggregates, limestone and grains etc.,” a ship-operator source with a company controlling Supramax ships said.

“Keeping India and China aside, Vietnam and Bangladesh are the next two big markets for Supramaxes and Ultramaxes,” the source added.

Bangladesh was largely reliant on South African coal, along with supplies from Mozambique and the Russian Federation, according to Platts cFlow since 2016.

The origination of coal cargoes imported by Bangladesh changed this past year with 51 Supramaxes discharging Indonesian coal at Chittagong, up from zero over the prior three years.

The country’s roaring monetary growth has generated excess demand for electricity and this has resulted in the sprouting of new power plants. The Bangladesh Chinese UTILITY COMPANY Limited, that is a joint venture between your North West Power Generation Company Limited and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation, have built two 660 MW power plants in Payra.

“Coal-fired power generation is likely to increase year on year in 2020, with 1.3 GW of new coal-fired power generation to come online, up from 524 MW in 2019,” said André Lambine, S&P Global Platts Analytics’ Asia Power analyst.

“The first 660 MW Payro coal plant went operational in January, and the next unit is expected online within four months. The 660 MW Rampal plant should start procedure by the end of 2020,” Lambine said.

The thermal coal shipped from South Africa to Bangladesh is principally used in cement plants.

The next major driver for the upsurge in port traffic is from ships bringing clinker cargoes. Clinker and limestone are being used to make cement. Bangladesh imports between 15 million-20 million mt of clinker and limestone annually, according to the country’s 2018 economic survey report.

Platts cFlow data showed that 25 Supramaxes had discharged at Chittagong from Thailand last year, up from zero in 2018. Flows from the UAE had also increased steadily and last year saw the arrival of 19 Supramaxes from UAE, which was almost double the quantity registered in 2018.

The shipments of grains from Brazil and Ukraine have remained steady over the past 3 years, averaging at around 15 vessels per year. According to the US Department of Agriculture report, Bangladesh may be the world’s fifth major wheat importer with demand spiking on the back of changing food habits as its citizens change their dietary choices. The united states sources almost all of its wheat requirement from the Black Sea region, which is shipped on Supramaxes. Bangladesh imported 5.5 million mt in 2016, 6.1 million mt in 2017, 5 million mt in 2018 and 6 million mt in 2019, respectively.