August 27 - (By Dale Crisp) Asia-Australia breakbulk and project veteran Pacific Orient Sea Transport (POST) has ceased trading after falling victim to high period charter rates, aggressive competition and the regional impact of the global financial crisi

Singapore-based POST and its Hong Kong affiliate OPAL have redelivered three multi-purpose ships after being unable to negotiate substantially lower charter rates, having fixed or extended the ships at the peak of the market last year.

The company says it battled falling southbound volumes, especially in base steel cargoes and mining equipment, while seeing new players attempting to establish a foothold in the trade by 'dumping' newbuildings in the market. Even container lines were quoting ridiculous prices on small parcels ex China 'to keep their ships employed'.

Northbound POST-OPAL was undercut on typical commodity shipments from Australia by handysize bulkers and was forced to take low-paying cargoes or ballast back to Asia. Ironically, it was the runaway bulker rates of a few years back that prompted POST to move into more versatile and better-equipped MPPs.

"Despite our financial position, we have paid all creditors, suppliers, contractors, vendors, brokers, agents and staff and we have fulfilled all our obligation and duty by delivering all cargoes to the respective consignees," POST CEO Capt Alex Wan said.

Two high-specification MPPs POST was to have long-term chartered from Germany's Hartmann group, Opal Amber and Opal Advance, have instead been fixed upon delivery from Chinese builders to Oceania Pacific Asia Line of Hong Kong, which is understood to have mainland Chinese principals and has taken over some of POST's trades. Oceania has set up a Singapore subsidiary, Opal Projects & Logistics Pte, which is managing the new service.