Chinese shipbuilding industries are struggling against new order drought and troubled shipping market.
According to latest report from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), during the first nine months of this year, Chinese shipyards' overall delivery declined by 18.5% year-on-year to 41.58m dwt, while new orders plunged to 15.41m dwt, down by 46.9% on the same period of last year.
As of the end of September, Chinese shipbuilders stood at 121m-dwt orders on the book, down by 19.4% against the end of 2011.
Industry analysts blamed the the troubled Chinese shipbuilding industries on tonnage overcapacity, rising oil and other costs as well as uncertainties in world economic growth caused by Europe's debt troubles and China's economic slowdown.
Chinese shipbuilding industries take the lead in new order contracted this year, in terms of cgt.
According to Clarkson data, Korean shipbuilders have signed 5.67m cgt (181 vessels), totalling $24.57bn, of new orders during the first 10 months of the year, while Chinese inked 6.11m cgt (350), $12.84bn.
During October alone, Korean shipyards only contracted 0.19m cgt (six), in total of $1.78bn but Chinese booked much larger with 0.54m cgt (36), $1.44bn.
In Particular, Chinese shipbuilders were awarded a total of 2.41m cgt (114 vessels), $4.93bn, during August-October period, which doubles orders contracted in Korea, 0.97m cgt (32), totalling $8.1bn.
On the other hand, in terms of value contracted, Korean shipbuilders recorded total amount of new orders almost twice bigger as those contracted by Chinese.
Korean shipyards made an outstanding results in high-value offshore sector, including drillship, LNG-FSRU, etc., during last month. On the contrary, Chinese contracted mainly for commercial ship, such as bulkers, VLCCs, etc.
But increasing number of offshore contracts are seen from Chinese shipbuilders as well, including PSV, deep-sea tender barge, etc.
Meanwhile, during the first ten months of 2012, overall new orders contracted in the world plummeted by 43% year-on-year to 16.82m cgt (879 vessels).
Korean and Chinese shipbuilders' overall new order declined by 56% and 34% each y-o-y, in cgt terms, during the same period.
Chinese shipbuilding industries are keep falling.
China Association of National Shipbuilding Industry (CANSI) reported that Chinese shipyards delivered a total of 41.58m dwt, down by 18.5% year-on-year, during the first nine months of 2012.
During the same period, Chinese shipbuilders contracted 15.41m dwt of newbuildings, 46.9% less than the same period of last year.
As of the end of September, orderbook stood at 120.9m dwt, declined by 28.4% y-o-y and by 19.4% against the end of 2011.
During January-September period, China's 1,636 shipbuilding-related companies over a certain level's total production value of completed products increased by 2.6% year-on-year to CNY 584.5bn ($93.6bn) - shipbuilding industries dropped by 1.9% to CNY 439.5bn, ship equipment increased by 22.6% to CNY 85.5bn, ship repair rose 11.1% to CNY 13.3bn, ship conversion grew by 20% to CNY 22.3bn and offshore fabrication increased 17.8% to CNY 20.6bn.
During the same period, total export from shipbuilding-related companies fell down by 11.6% y-o-y to CNY 203.5bn - shipbuilding declined by 12.6% to CNY 185.6bn, ship equipment up by 9.3% to CNY 8.51bn, ship repair down by 1.5% to CNY 3.27bn, ship conversion dropped by 12.1% to CNY 1.93bn and offshore fabrication sharply grew by 45.6% to CNY 1.44bn.
Meanwhile, Chinese shipyards delivered 34.34m-dwt export ships from January to September, down by 20.2% on the same period of last year. Chinese inked 12m dwt of export orders, which declined by 44.5%, as well. Orderbook of export ships decreased by 27% to 101.2m dwt at the end of September.
Export ships accounted for 82.6%, 77.9% and 83.7% of total delivery, new order and orderbook.
In September, China's total delivery of civilian steel ship declined by 34.1% year-on-year and by 5.3% month-on-month and total delivery from January to September dropped by 12.8% comparing with the same period of last year.
During the first eight months of this year, Chinese shipbuilders' overall delivery stood at 37.83m dwt, down by 12.4% year-on-year, while growth rate of total amount of export ships, during the same period, turned out to be -1.9%.
BDI increased by 8.96%, BCI, BHSI, BDT and BCTI also rose by 38.31%, 2.83%, 3.51% and 10.5% each, while BPI and BSI declined by 42.18% and 3.15%, respectively.
Market players voiced up to warn additional decrease in newbuilding prices. Overall, most of ship types saw decreases by around $1m against early of the month.
Meanwhile, Chinese shipyards are facing crisis of further decreases in newbuilding prices and new order, many industry insiders believe.
Chinese shipbuilding industry saw three shipbuilding indexes for the first three quarters of 2012 all declined, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT) on October 22.
Also, industry player suggested that Chinese shipbuilding players would remain bearish for a while and eventually face broad-scale restructuring.
According to statistical data reported by MIIT, during the first nine months of 2012, Chinese shipbuilders delivered a total of 41.58m dwt newbuildings, declined by 18.5% year-on-year. Of them, seagoing vessels accounted for 12.36m cgt.
Overall new order decreased by 46.9% to 15.41m dwt, during the same period, of them seagoing vessel taking 6.32m cgt.
Chinese shipyards' stood on 120.9m dwt of orderbook as of the end of September, dropped by 19.4% compared with the end of 2011. Seagoing vessels accounted for 40.34m cgt and export ship took 83.8% of total volume of backlog.
Chinese shipbuilding industries' proportion of bulker order has not reached half of overall new order for the first time since 2006.
According to Clarkson, proportion of bulker order of all newbuildings contracted by Chinese shipyards year to date stands at 45%, while containership, tanker and gas carrier taking 10% each.
From 2007 to 2011, bulker proportion used to be around 60% but this year saw lower than 50% for the first time since 2006 with 28%.
Particularly, gas-carrier ratio exceeded 10% for the first time this year with 11.9%, in lines with increasing proportion of boxship.
As ordering for bulker sharply decreasing this year, Chinese shipyards booked relatively more orders in segments, such as containership, tanker, gas carrier, etc.
The global shipbuilding industry has seen a mild recovery as orders for new vessels rebounded to more than 3 million deadweight tons last month, and Chinese shipyards were still leading the industry.
According to the latest statistics released by Clarksons Plc, the world's leading provider of shipping services, a total of 79 new vessels, totaling 3.2 million deadweight tons, were ordered in shipyards across the world in September. The volume was 7.7 percent up from the same period last year and 9.6 percent up from August, data showed.
China still leads the world shipbuilding industry in new orders. Chinese yards received orders for 34 new vessels, totaling 1.92 million deadweight tons, accounting for 60 percent of the world's total new-order volume and an 81 percent increase from the same period last year.
Chinese shipyards have secured new ship orders totaling 14.6m dwt during the first eight months this year.
The figure is down by 48% against the same period of last year, data from the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry shows.
Of the newbuilding orders, 11m dwt was for export deals, which also fell 48% year-on-year.
As new orders continue to decrease, China's entire newbuilding orderbook also shrank to 123.8m as of August end, down by 30% compared to a year ago.
So dire is the order drought in China that even Japan is set to overtake the PRC according to a recent report from South Korea.
Analyst Park Mu-Hyun of E*Trade Securities in Korea said that Chinese shipbuilding industries are now collapsing and Japan will take back second place in the global shipbuilding pecking order.
Japan’s focus on single ship types – eco-bulkers – has paid off with many yards still reporting orderbooks stretching into 2014.
"Japan with a long shipbuilding history knows it very well that focusing on one's specialty will eventually raise its competitiveness," Park wrote in his recent report.
The global collapse of shipping rates and general oversupply of vessels as well as the slow-down in the Chinese economy is forcing more and more Chinese ship building companies to close shop.
According to a report in the Southern Metropolis Daily, a newspaper serving the Pearl Delta region in southeast China, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation general manager Tan Zuojun recently said that 50 percent of mainland Chinese ship builders will be closed in the next 2-3 years.
A staff member at the Taizhou Economy and Information Technology Bureau told 21cbh.com that companies are running on borrowed time. Some still have old orders to complete, as the building cycle for a large ship can span several years, but without new orders coming in, the number of companies to go bust might be even higher than anticipated.
Due to the long build-times, the shipbuilding sector is prone to large boom and bust cycles, as production cannot be adjusted quickly. At this moment, there is a persistent glut in vessels and productive capacity on the global market. Mainland China alone has enough capacity to service the entire world’s demand for new ships, as was reported by a Chinese shipping industry newsletter.
According to China Economic Weekly, mainland Chinese state and private companies went into the shipbuilding business in a large scale beginning in 2007. Relying on low raw material costs and underpriced labor, the industry grew by leaps and bounds.
In 2010, the Chinese shipbuilding industry overtook South Korea as the world leader in total shipbuilding capacity. During its peak, there were over 3400 shipbuilding companies in China compared to 329 shipyards—including different yards of the same company— in the United States today according to data sourced by the website shipbuildinghistory.com.
Two years later, however, sailing is not as smooth anymore for the Chinese shipbuilding industry. Data released by the China Shipbuilding Industry Association Aug. 28 shows that during the first seven months of this year, the three major indicators relating to production and orders were pointing down.
Total finished capacity amounted to 35.49 million tons, a 7.7 percent decline compared to same period last year. Total new orders amounted to 11.64 million tons, a 50.7 percent decline from last year. The current order-book stands at 123.48 million tons, a 29.9 percent decline from last year.
The situation is quite bleak according to Shanghai International Shipping Research Center deputy director of market analysis Zhang Yongfeng. He told Time Weekly in July this year: “With the worldwide shipping industry continuing to be in a slump, the Chinese builders are entering a bitter cold winter period: It’s hard to get orders, hard to meet orders, it’s hard to finance, we have high costs and low profit.”
These factors put enormous economic pressure on these very capital-intensive companies. As the new order flow stalls, many Chinese shipbuilding companies were shutdown down over the past year.
According to a report by Chinese Economic Weekly on Sept. 4, the main factors affecting the Chinese shipbuilding industry are tight lending standards, a reduction in new orders, and the difficulty to deliver on old orders—higher input costs and lack of financing are some reasons for delays, which usually carry heavy penalties. The most pessimistic prediction says the number of shipbuilding companies will go down from 3400 at its peak to less than 300, according to the report.
Data released by the Leqing City Economy and Information Technology Bureau in Zhejiang Province provides some more color on this dire prediction: Among the 23 shipbuilding companies in Leqing, 13 were still operating normally at the beginning of this year, but now there are only 7 left as more than two-thirds of the companies have stopped production.
Hu Jintao, director of the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute, told Dongfang Daily, a local newspaper in Shanghai, that 2012 is only the start of it and it will get worse in 2013 and 2014.
Experts suggest that the brisk development of the Chinese heavy industries is reminiscent of the infamous “Great Leap Forward” in the 1960s, where China set ambitious goals for heavy industry production that lacked the necessary infrastructure and resulted in a famine that killed millions of people.
Today, China mainly builds low value-added large ships and does not have the necessary technological prowess that provides an edge.
At a forum held on Dec. 15, 2011 in Taizhou City, Jiangsu Province, a leading expert in the field, Shen Wensun of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said: “Regarding key technologies in ship design, research, manufacturing and development of key components, [China] still lags behind Europe, Japan, South Korea and other advanced nations and regions. …There are too many copy-cat companies that lack innovation and most stay at the initial stages,” according to a report by Cansi.
At the same event, Chinese Academy of Engineering academic Zhang Bingyan said that increasing energy efficiency and reducing pollution are the big trends in new ship design and that those who don’t have these technologies will not get any new orders.