Newbuilding orders of tanker ships have seen a sharp reduction, but the slowing trend needs to be sustained for the longer-term health of the market, according to the latest edition of the Tanker Forecaster, published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.
After numerous orders in recent years, newbuilding activity in the tanker market declined sharply in the first quarter of 2016 as only 34 vessels (2.6 million dwt) were ordered during the period, far below the hefty 368 vessels (45 million dwt) ordered in 2015.
Challenging conditions in capital markets and tight credit availability from banks have subdued new ordering. Although this will not arrest the strong fleet growth and corresponding decline in freight rates over the next two years, as many vessels are scheduled to be delivered in 2016-17, it bodes well for the future, especially if this is a reflection of cautious ordering by owners.
However, if the current decline is just a breather after the hefty ordering in 2015, when owners increased orders to avoid stringent Tier III regulations for the vessels ordered from Jan. 1, 2016, any increase in ordering in the coming months will hurt the longer-term outlook for the tanker market.
Despite the slowdown in ordering in the first quarter of the year, the total orderbook remains high at 63.7 million dwt, 18.6% of the crude tanker fleet. About 80% of the vessels in the orderbook are scheduled to be delivered in the next two years, and we expect more than 200 crude tankers to be delivered by the end of 2017.
"Newbulding prices declined during the quarter on account of the slowdown in tanker ordering, which coincided with weakness in newbuilding activity in other sectors as well, keeping prices under pressure. If ordering remains weak in the coming quarters, newbuilding prices could soften further," said Rajesh Verma, Drewry's lead analyst for tanker shipping.
"The tanker market is expected to be oversupplied in the next two years due to hefty deliveries and relatively slow growth in the crude oil trade. If the slowdown in ordering continues further it will keep fleet growth in check in the later years, which in turn will support tonnage utilisation in the tanker market", Verma added.
Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) should purchase new fuel efficient vessels to replace the old ones, the company was told by India's standing parliamentary committee on transport.
The recommendation comes in the aftermath of SCI's recovery from its loss making phase since 2011-12, bouncing back to a net profit of Rs.384.41 crore during 2015-16.
Since posting losses for three consecutive fiscal years, from 2011 to 2014, SCI abstained from ordering new tonnage and has not acquired any vessel during 2015-16, and the company has no vessels on order, according to the committee.
SCI had registered losses at a time where the shipping industry was struggling to come out of its unprecedented long recession and the outlook for shipping industry was progressively deteriorating. In order to make up for the sustained losses and to turn itself around, cost reduction measures were undertaken, including fleet reduction steps in the company's liner vessels, dry bulk carriers, tanker and passenger vessels.
Future plans include focus on coastal & near-coastal trade, expansion of break-bulk & project cargo business, optimization of equipment inventory, along with reduction in Opex costs through various initiatives, added the committee.
"The committee understands that some of the ships owned by the SCI are aged and needed to be phased out. The committee recommends that if the international market situations are viable, they may go for purchasing new fuel efficient vessels in place of the old ones," the committee said in a report.
Impairment chargers related to Odfjell's LPG carrier newbuildings have led the Oslo-listed owner to consider selling off four 17,000cbm vessels it has on order.
The Norwegian group posted a US$2.75m impairment charge in its Q1 2016 financial results, caused by delays to construction of the eight LPG/ethylene carriers it has on order at Nantong Sinopacific, China.
Four of the vessels are 17,000 cbm in cargo capacity, all due to arrive this year. Four 22,000cbm gas carriers were originally slated for delivery this year but have been delayed until 2017.
If Odfjell decides to go ahead with the terminations, the first vessel would be cancelled this month and delivery of the three remaining vessels would be cancelled every three months thereafter.
All installments paid on the newbuildings have been secured by refund guarantees from "reputable financing institutions", Odfjell said.
The first 22,000cbm gas carrier's contractual delivery was scheduled for September, but delays have pushed back delivery until April 2017.
Odfjell said that activity in LPG shipping markets has been "flat" over the past quarter, with active export markets to Asia from both the US and Europe during the first months of the year. Trading is expected to ramp up again after inventory building in the US has been completed, now winter is over in the northern hemisphere.
The overcapacity in the container shipping sector seems to have finally struck a nerve as owners abstained from ordering new boxship capacity for the first time in years.
According to BIMCO, the first quarter of this year was the first time since the second quarter of 2009 that three months have passed without any new orders signed.
"The lack of orders reflects the very poor market conditions and the fact that 2015 saw 2.2 million TEU being ordered. This was the second ever largest volume of containership capacity ordered annually– second only to 2007 when 3.25 million TEU was contracted," said BIMCO's Chief Analyst Peter Sand.
Owners are staying clear from new orders also due to the delivery of new containership capacity, which BIMCO claims has exceeded its expectations with 240,730 TEU delivered into the fleet in Q1.
On the other hand, recycling of superfluous ships has been stepped up slightly in 2016, with 105,509 TEU leaving the fleet.
As a result, the net growth of the fleet in Q1 was 0.7%. For the full year BIMCO expects 3.4%, slightly up from its January estimate.
March saw the record broken for the largest containership ever to be demolished. The 15 year-old, 6,479TEU post-panamax "CSAV Papudo" was sold to breakers in India at a strong US$295 per ldt and became only the second ship with a capacity of more than the 6,000 TEU to be demolished. By mid April, owners have sent 115,570 TEU to the breakers primarily in India.
However, years of negative fleet growth need to pass for the suplly-demand balance to be restored, as BIMCO's forecast of 250,000 TEU to be broken up in 2016 only cuts into the fleet by a fraction representing 1.26% of the current fleet size.
Separately, the one-sided focus on cutting costs per transported TEU by ordering ever larger ships continues along the lines of "bigger is better", added BIMCO.
In 2015, 119 ships with a 10,000+ TEU capacity accounted for 87% of the total new capacity being ordered. The other 118 ships ordered, ranging in size from 1,000 TEU to 5,300 TEU accounted for only 13%.
This year, the average containership size for delivered ships is going down from the all-time-high 7,952 TEU in 2015 to around 7,000 TEU per ship.
In terms of outlook, BIMCO does not expect demand to grow at a pace needed to match the capacity of new ships entering the fleet.
Hence, extensive idling of the modern and efficient ships in the fleet and continued demolition of the inefficient ships will improve the market both in the short and mid-term.
"For the longer term management of capacity, a low level of contracting for newbuildings must be maintained. 2016 is off to a good start on all these parameters," concludes Sand.
Chinese COSCO (Zhoushan) Shipyard, a subsidiary of COSCO Shipyard Group, has entered into a contract with an undisclosed European buyer to construct two 113,000dwt crude oil tankers. In addition, the European buyer has been given the option to make a decision before November 2016 to build two more.
COSCO Zhoushan and the European buyer have agreed to keep the contract prices confidential, the company said.
COSCO said that the transactions are not expected to have a material impact on the net tangible assets and earnings per share of the company for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016.
Florida-based shipping company Crowley Maritime Corporation christened on Thursday Louisiana, the latest of its four new Jones Act product tankers at the Port of New Orleans.
Having received the American Bureau of Shipping's (ABS) LNG-Ready Level 1 approval, Louisiana has a potential for future conversion to LNG propulsion.
Designed by South Korean Hyundai Mipo Dockyards (HMD), the four Jones Act product tankers are being built for the company by Philly Shipyard (PSI) in Philadelphia.
The 50,000dwt Louisiana is capable of carrying 330,000 barrels of product.
With its length of 600 feet, the ship has the capacity to transport crude oil or refined petroleum products, as well as various chemical cargoes. It will operate in the U.S. Gulf, according to Crowley.
China's CSBC Corporation, Taiwan (CSBC) will formally start the construction of the first and second 2,800teu container vessels in a series of ten this July for compatriot shipowner Evergreen Marine Corp, reported a domestic shipping news portal.
The value of the ten vessels exceeds US$300m. The deliveries will be completed by the first half of 2018.
Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) received the liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier Kumul at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in Shanghai on April 29.
The 290-meter long vessel, which was ordered by MOL subsidiary Gemini LNG Shipping Limited, is the last in a series of four newbuilding LNG carriers ordered by MOL to provide LNG transportation for projects in Papua New Guinea.
Featuring a cargo tank capacity of 171,800 m3, the vessel will be operated under a long-term charter contract for the PNG LNG project operated by ExxonMobil, according to MOL.
The first vessel from the batch, the Papua, was delivered in January 2015, the second one, the Southern Cross, joined its owner in June that year, while the owner took delivery of the third one, the Beidou Star, in November 2015.
All vessels have been launched to sail under long-term charters with ExxonMobil.
In April, MOL launched the operation of its newly established LNG carrier management company, MOL LNG Transport (MOLLNG (Asia)) in order to meet demands of an anticipated growth in LNG transport sector for Asia.
The company revealed its intention to play a central role in ship management, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, as it becomes involved in the operation of a growing number of LNG carriers.
The company is currently involved in the operation of about 70 LNG carriers.
Singapore-based shipowner Ocean Tankers has recently placed an order of twenty 11,000dwt chemical tankers with two Chinese shipbuilders, reported a domestic shipping news portal.
The total value of the 20 vessels is approximately US$360m.
Currently, Ocean Tankers owns 82 vessels composed of 14 VLCC, 1 Suezmax tanker, 14 Aframax tankers, 6 Panamax tankers, 22 MR tankers, 4 chemical tankers, and 21 general-purpose tankers.
Damen Schelde, part of Damen Shipyards Group, has officially secured a contract to design and build Australia's new icebreaker worth AU$529m (US$403m).
Australian company DMS Maritime Pty is to project manage the overall ship design and building process, and after that operate and maintain the icebreaker from its home port of Hobart.
The Australian government expects the cost of the entire project to hit AU$1.9bn, including the vessel's 30-year operations and maintenance costs. The project is said to be the single biggest investment in the history of the Australian Antarctic program.
The contract signing follows the recently unveiled Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20-year Action Plan by the Ministry of the Environment.
The new icebreaker will be used for the resupply of Australia's Antarctic research stations and to lead scientific expeditions, according to the government.
In addition, the vessel is said to be faster, larger and stronger than the Australian Antarctic program's current icebreaker, Aurora Australis, and offers increased endurance and icebreaking capability.
The ship is scheduled for delivery in mid-2020.