Belships has continued its strategy of fixing its bulkers on time charters by fixing four vessels on period contracts of around two years.

The contracts have been fixed at an average gross rate of about $22,000 per day per vessel.

Two of the new period contracts will commence this quarter and the others will begin in the following three months. The specific vessels were not disclosed.

Chief executive Lars Christian Skarsgard told TradeWinds: “We have been expanding the fleet and have a view that it’s prudent to have a solid ratio of contract coverage to keep a balance.

“It’s difficult to predict markets short-term. Lots of uncertainties in terms of macroeconomics and grain exports, which should set off around these times, are obviously questionable.

“China’s new rounds of lockdowns are also negative for the market. At the same time, the orderbook is historically low, fleet inefficiencies continue due to high bunker prices and port congestion, which supports a strong market.

“All in all, we have chosen contract coverage to secure strong cash flows. This sets us up for continued dividend payments for the foreseeable future. I think that’s a pretty decent plan.”

The deals mean the Norwegian owner has 70% contract coverage for the next four quarters from the third quarter, covered at an average gross rate of $23,600 per day per vessel. The average daily cash breakeven for a Belships vessel this year is $10,000.

For 2023, contract coverage stands at 45% at a gross rate of about $23,000 per day per vessel.

The Baltic Exchange’s forward curve indicates 2023 contracts at just over $17,160 per day, according to Tuesday’s settlement prices.

Paper for the third quarter of this year closed at $28,642 per day on Tuesday.