Shipyards become the next victim of the deteriorating conditions in the dry bulk, container and offshore markets as 2016 looks to set the record for the lowest newbuilding contracts in more than 20 years, according to BIMCO.
After a decline from 2010 to 2012, shipbuilding had a rebound in 2013 and was expected to level out over the next few years. The reality was a slight decline in 2014 and 2015, but still high levels of contracting measured by compensated gross tonnage (CGT).
BIMCO said that since then, shipyards have crashed, as the contracted CGT globally has hit its lowest level since on record.
"Since the high contracting in 2013, BIMCO expected the shipyards could come under pressure. This expectation became a reality at the start of 2016, with Q1 contracting the second lowest CGT in 20 years," said Peter Sand Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO.
"A low level of contracting is exactly what the shipping industry needs in order to eventually restore the fundamental balance between supply and demand," he added.
The shipyards in Europe were the only ones to see an increase in contracting in the first eight months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. Europe contracted 2.52 million CGT, an increase of 45.3% compared to the previous year.
Japan and South Korea have had the biggest decline in contracting, down by 86.7% and 86.5% respectively, compared to the same months the year before, while China contracted 49% less CGT in that period.
"Globally, the tanker and container segments are the main reasons for diminishing new orders by percentage as well as in CGT in 2016. Combined, they were responsible for 67.7% of the total contracted CGT in the first 8 months of 2015. This year, tanker contracts are down by 80.1% and container contracts are down 84.1% compared to the same eight months last year," said BIMCO.
The effect of declining contracts and continuing shipyard overcapacity has put pressure on the shipyards order cover. The order cover is the number of years it will take to deliver the scheduled order book, based on the capacity of the shipyards. Therefore, a low order cover can be a result of high capacity at the shipyards, as well as a decreasing order book.
Shipbuilding in South Korea is suffering the most, as they hold orders for less than two years of building. Europe continues the positive trend seen in contracted CGT, with increasing order cover. This shows that additional contracting orders are not being absorbed by new shipyards entering the market.
"There is a declining trend for Japan, China and South Korea and with such low levels of newbuilding contracts being placed, this will look even more severe next year. However, the order cover could have been even lower, if capacity had been taken out due to shipyards cutting down on operations or closing entirely," Peter Sand said.
Kangnam Corporation, a Korean shipyard that traditionally has focused on military vessel construction, has won its first product carrier order.
Local firm Doora Logistics has given Busan-based Kangnam a contract to build a 4,700dwt product carrier. The ship will be delivered in early 2018.
A number of Korean yards that used to build smaller product carriers have gone bust during the downturn giving Kangnam a chance to get into merchant ship production.
Norwegian RoRo shipping company Höegh Autoliners has named its fifth Pure Car Truck Carrier (PCTC) in the New Horizon series, Höegh Traveller, at Xiamen Shipbuilding Industries in China.
Höegh Traveller is the fifth in a series of six Post-Panamax vessels to be delivered to the company by the end of this year.
Earlier this month, Höegh Autoliners concluded sea trials on this 20,766dwt ship which has a gross tonnage of 77,000 Mt.
The new vessel features a length of 199.9 meters and a width of 36.5 meters.
The newbuilding can carry 8,500 equivalent units and it also has the flexibility to carry high and heavy project cargo.
"The vessel also has a higher door opening than Höegh Autoliners' current vessels, enabling cargo up to 6.5 metres high and 12 metres wide to be loaded. Extra ramp strength allows for cargo weighing up to 375 tonnes to be loaded over the stern ramp and 22 tonnes over the side ramp," said the company.
Höegh Traveller will begin its maiden voyage from East Asia to Europe in early September. After that, the ship will sail from Europe back to East Asia via Africa and Oceania.
Safe Bulkers has novated the shipbuilding contract for a kamsarmax newbuilding to another of its wholly owned subsidiaries in order to finance Us$16.9m of the construction costs via an unnamed investor.
The undisclosed vessel is scheduled to be delivered in the first half of 2018 when its new holding company will issue US$16.9m in 2.95% cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred equity to the unaffiliated investor.
"This arrangement allows the company to finance a significant portion of this newbuild through the issuance of preferred equity to the investor with a preferred dividend below 3%, avoiding the incurrence of additional indebtedness and preserving our liquidity position, while it is not dilutive for our common shareholders," Dr. Loukas Barmparis, Safe Bulkers' president, said in a release.
The unnamed investor may redeem the preferred equity three years after its being issued or at any time at the option of the issuer.
The shares will not entitle the investor to any voting rights but the financier will, however, be entitled to nominate one director to the issuer's board.
NYSE-listed Safe Bulkers has two 81,000dwt kamsarmax newbuildings and two 84,000dwt kamsarmaxes on order. Three are being built at Imabari in Japan and one at Jiangsu New Yangzijiang in China.
Super Eco Tankers Management is one very few Greek shipping firms to still be ordering new tonnage. It chose to sign two orders for four new tankers in the last seven months.
Costantino Tomasos, managing director of the Piraeus and Singapore-based shipmanagement company, said that the orders were all about timing. "The outlook for oil/chemical tankers is still positive in the forthcoming years, newbuilding prices still remain close to the historical minimum despite the level of the freight market – normally there is an inverse correlation between these two variables – and the existing MR orderbook is reasonable compared to other segments."
The seasoned Greek shipowner (who was born in Italy) also adds, "I guess that short term investors or asset speculators are concerned about the high volatility of the market and therefore only the long term and well established players are used to this scenario. The eco design of the new ships is a further incentive when compared to elder secondhand ones".
Super Eco Tankers' role in shipping dates back to the 19th century. According to VesselsValue.com, it has 13 tankers under management with a capacity ranging from 37,100 dwt to 52,400 dwt and further four 40,000 and 50,000dwt MR have been ordered in South Korea recently with delivery scheduled from 2017 onwards. The sister company SEBM – Super Eco Bulkers Management's fleet consists of seven units: three 34,000dwt handysizes, one supramax and a brand new handysize delivered this year from AVIC Weihai. A further two handysizes are on order at the same Chinese shipyard. According to Tomasos, their suppleness, age and restrained size, blended with a right policy to meet customers' requirements, will preserve his company from the ongoing crisis which is affecting the dry cargo sector and more intensively the larger bulkers.
Looking into the future, Tomasos is interested in finding new financial investors and fresh capital.
"I think," he explains, "for a company which intends to protect its future, like we are, entering the capital market also implies a strategic choice, for example fleet refurbishment and expansion.
Considering our peers in the tanker business, unlike choosing a typical IPO we might merge with a company already listed on the Nasdaq or the NYSE. This is a strategic move we intend implementing at the right time with the right partnership."
South Korean shipbuilding major Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) added US$4.1bn worth of new orders to its orderbook in the first half of 2016, a 44.4% drop compared to the results for the same period a year ago when the company recorded close to US$7.4bn worth of new orders.
HHI's shipbuilding sector received nearly 69% less orders in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. New orders in the first six months of the current year amounted to US$992m, as compared to around US$3.2bn registered in the first half of 2015.
The shipbuilder's offshore sector also suffered in the period, with the orders being more than halved compared to 1H 2015, from US$888m to US$417m.
The bleak interim report comes as the company's unionized workers teamed up with workers from seven other shipbuilding companies to organize a joint industrial action against self-restructuring measures that are to be carried out throughout the industry.
HHI plans to implement a US$3bn self-rescue plan which includes the sale of its shares of Hyundai Motor and KCC, its stakes in Hyundai Avancis, and certain properties and receivables.
The shipbuilder also plans to make further savings with employee salary cuts and work-sharing.
The Korean Register (KR) has completed a feasibility study for the conversion of an 8,600teu container ship into a 10,000teu vessel which showed that the method could potentially save time and money to ship owners and operators when compared to ordering a new boxship.
This new capacity specification was developed in response to a shipping company's desire to adapt to recent shipping environment changes and to improve operational efficiency.
KR offered the shipping company two scenarios for the study. One was a traditional method, to increase the size of the vessel by lengthening the ship, while the other used a more recent approach, whereby the vessel's breadth would be expanded, which was used by Reederei NSB last year.
Using both of these methods, KR analyzed the new vessels potential speed, fuel efficiency, stability and strength, the cost and time needed for conversion, the size-expandability, the new vessels maneuverability and its anchoring.
Looking at the speed analysis, while both options showed a 4% drop after conversion, the length extension conversion was one knot faster than its width expansion counterpart. For fuel efficiency, the length extension conversion consumed 5% less than the alternative vessel.
In terms of stability and strength, the widening conversion showed improved stability, with almost no need for additional reinforcement to enhance the vessels strength. However, the lengthening scenario, the vessel stability was unaltered but it needed much more reinforcement on its deck and bottom parts to maintain its strength, because of the increased hull bending movement.
The study showed in general that the widening conversion would increase cargo carrying capacity by up to 30%, but in the lengthening scenario, capacity only increased by 15%.
It would take twice as long to make the changes to the widening conversion, compared to the time it would take to convert the vessel using the lengthening scenario.
There would be no difference in the cost of conversion to either option, because the lengthening conversion requires more steel work. Lastly, the study found that the two options were almost the same in terms of maneuverability and anchoring.
"The cost to complete a ship conversion is only around 15% of the cost of a comparative newbuild and the conversion time required is considerably shorter," said Dr. C. W. Kim, Executive Vice President, Technical Division of KR.
"Therefore, it can be a great alternative to placing a newbuilding order. This study is just one of the ways KR works with its customers to evaluate different options to optimize their business profitability."
Norwegian shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has received Themis, the fourth out of eight Neo-Panamax RoRos ordered from South Korea's Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries.
Like her sister vessels, Theben, Thalatta and Thermopylae, Themis is almost 200 metres long, 36.5 metres wide and features five liftable car decks. The vessel can transport up to 8,000 car equivalent units.
Themis is a High Efficiency RoRo (HERO) class vessel fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system that reduces sulphur emissions to below 0.1 per cent in compliance with ECA regulations and removes 70 percent of particulate matter. All HERO class vessels comply with the International Maritime Organisation's guidelines on ship recycling.
On her maiden voyage, Themis' first port of call was Yokohama, from where she is presently sailing with Bremerhaven as her final destination.
Chinese shipyard Taizhou Sanfu Ship Engineering Co., Ltd. held a naming and delivery ceremony for a fourth 64,000dwt bulk carrier built for Thailand-based shipowner Precious Shipping on July 7, 2016, according to the shipyard’s company website.
The vessel is expected to start its maiden voyage on July 10.
Shipping company Ilshin Shipping has placed an order for a 50,000dwt liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled bulk carrier at South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.
The parties did not disclose the financial terms of the contract, however, they did reveal that the vessel is scheduled for delivery in late 2017.
The vessel's fuel tanks will be manufactured from high manganese steel, to be supplied by South Korea's steel company Posco, starting from the third quarter of the year.
'Featuring an energy-efficient, eco-friendly dual-fuel engine, the bulker will be deployed to transport limestone from Gangwon Province to Posco's facilities in Gwangyang City from 2018.
The high manganese steel contains about 20% manganese, and can therefore store LNG at extremely low temperatures.