Genova - There were 411 newbuilds contracted by ship owners in 2017 (20,000 DWT bulk carriers and above, 30,000 DWT tankers and above, 500 TEU container ships and above), compared to 166 vessels during the previous year. In their weekly report, brokers at Banchero Costa noted that the number of new vessel orders during last year was 2.5 times that of 2016: “However, the shipbuilding industry is unlikely to be out of the woods just yet, with order numbers still sharply lower compared to a peak of 1,562 orders placed in 2013, and 1,269 orders placed in 2015. While improving market sentiments are likely to support increasing new orders for particularly dry bulk carriers this year, ship financing may be a limiting factor as European banks continue to struggle with bad shipping debts, resulting in even mid-size shipping companies facing difficulty obtaining funds.”
Following the 2016 downturn due to over-capacity in the global fleet, last year container sector companies ordered new ships for a total capacity of 671,000 TEU, compared to 280,000 TEU the previous year, according to data from the French analysis company Alphaliner. Of the 109 vessels ordered last year, ships under 3,000-TEU capacity numbered 83. Those 20 orders for ships in the 18,000-TEU or over category stand out compared to the zero orders of 2016 - with some of those having signed contracts for 22,000-TEU ships, such as the Swiss MSC, and the French CMA CGM.
However, Alphaliner underlines how the volume of overall orders for 2017 is not too impressive when compared to that of 2015, when 2.2 million TEU’s worth of new ships entered the global fleet, and of which 56 vessels had a capacity of 18,000 TEU or higher. The increase in the newbuilding market, shipbroker Allied Shipbroking reported, was aided by a “slightly more speculative attitude in the dry bulk sector, thanks to the recovery of freight rates recorded in 2017; while growth on the tanker market front was more “opportunistic”, the Greek brokers said, taking advantage of lower prices on offer by most shipbuilders.
Looking at the progress made by the main shipbuilding nations over the last five years, as presented in the Banchero Costa report, China emerges once more as the biggest player, after it was neck and neck with Japan in 2015 (508 ships to Japan’s 475, a number helped by 332 orders for bulkers). China shipbuilders received 198 of the orders, compared to 112 for South Korea, which, one shouldn’t forget, is the world’s largest builder of both tanker ships, as well as and the largest categories of container carriers. The market is dominated by three big players in the sector: China (48% of total orders, distributed across 27 shipyards, compared to 45 shipyards in 2015); South Korea (with 27% of the share across nine shipyards); Japan (8.7%, across 13 shipyards). It is worth noting, however, that while in 2016 there were just four newbuildings carried out by nations other than the three big players, last year that grew to 65, or 15.8% of the total, the highest share of the last five years.