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Shipping fleet growth has started to slow down, as newbuildings amount to just 329 ships of all types since the start of 2015

Date: 10/06/2015

Challenging market conditions have led to the inevitable reconsideration of ship owners’ priorities. Uncertainty has been the norm over the past few months, most notably since the start of 2015, which is leading most owner to a complete overhaul of all aspects that impact the supply of tonnage. As such, scrapping activity and the reorganization of the newbuilding delivery programme have intensified over the past few months, leading to a hold back of the growth rate of the fleet.

Yet, according to Allied Shipbroking’s latest weekly report, “what will inevitably dictate the course of the market going forward will be the rate of new contracting that takes place, as even if we take steps to counter the effects of the current order-book, their effects are limited if we continue to see the number of vessels on order in-creasing or even holding at their current numbers”.

According to Mr. George Lazaridis, Head of Market Research & Asset Valuations with Allied Shipbroking, “to the dismay of the shipbuilding industry as a whole, new contracting has been consid-erably marginalised by shipowners and potential investors. New orders have slowed down to a trickle, with the latest figures pointing to a total of only 329 units of all ship types being ordered in the period between January and May. This is a serious reduction compared to previous years, showing a fall of 61.7% compared to the same period in 2014 and a 55.9% compared to 2013″.

Of course, as Lazaridis notes, “one may say however that this reduction, though considerable in size, might well be attributed solely to a lack in appetite for dry bulkers. This is partly true, with dry bulk orders dropping during this five month period by 78% compared to 2014 and by 70% compared to 2013. Nevertheless, the lowered appetite for new ordering has not been limited to just dry bulkers. Tankers, which have been showing off stellar results in terms of freight earnings this year, have not been able to generate investor interest for new orders to the extent that they had in the past”.

He added that “new contracts have dropped by 40.9% and 48.8% compared to 2014 and 2013 respectively. A point to note however, is that a large chunk of the dry bulk orders that have been switched during this year have been changed over to tanker orders, adding as such to the orderbook without the placing of “new” contracts so to speak. Another sector which has seen additions through the switching of dry bulk orders has been the containership sector, though here it seems that new contracts have been holding at a relatively better pace, falling short by only 26.5% compared to 2014 and 30.1% com-pared to 2013. Finally the Gas sectors, which have seen an extraordinary rebirth in the volume of new contracts being placed during the past 3-4 years, have also been met with scepticism during 2015. New orders here dropped by 69.4% and 55.2% compared to 2014 and 2013 respectively”.

So as we can tell it has been a very difficult year so far for shipbuilders. Lazaridis said that “the main question is as to what extent can this trend continue as we move forward? and with some sectors in the shipping industry showing good earnings results, what is holding poten-tial buyers back from placing new contracts? With the poor performance in the dry bulk market having had a considerable influence on all shipowners and with the global mar-kets struggling to show signs of more prosperous times ahead, it seems that most feel more comfortable to keep a conservative approach in regard to new contracting. At the same time secondhand asset prices have been viewed more favourably during the past five months as the discounts offered are considerable compared to the respective of-fered newbuilding prices. What’s more and as a final point, many potential buyers might well be waiting for further discounts to be offered down the line by shipbuilders, as pressure mounts for them to upkeep their orderbook alive” he concluded.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide               

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