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Ordering: East Meets West?

The European and Asia/Pacific owned fleets are the largest regional fleets globally and account for 44% and 41% of the fleet in terms of GT respectively. While their share of global ordering has fluctuated over time, eight owner nations within these regions have accounted for around two thirds of tonnage contracted between 2005 and the ytd (857.8m GT).

Swinging Share?
As the Graph of the Month shows, ordering volumes have varied over time. Firm contracting levels 2005-08 saw European owners place almost half of all orders in terms of GT (234.4m GT) with Greek and German owners accounting for 32% of the record 177.7m GT ordered in 2007. The onset of the global recession in 2009 saw the proportion of GT ordered by Asia/Pacific owners outpace that of their European counterparts, averaging 53% in the period 2009-11 with a total 99.5m GT contracted over the period. Since the end of 2011, the share of GT ordered by European and Asia/Pacific owners has been more aligned at 44% and 37% respectively.

Starting Off West
Following the downturn in ordering, European owners have seen their share of the global fleet decline from a recent peak of 47% in 2007 to 44% at the start of 2014. Greek owners accounted for 15% of tonnage (124.9m GT) ordered by European owners between 2005 and 2013 and their fleet is now the largest globally. German owners placed the fourth largest volume of orders globally 2005-13 (70.8m GT) with boxships representing around 56% of GT. However, average German ordering volumes fell from 14.3m GT p.a. 2005-08 to 2.7m GT p.a. 2009-13, mainly due to the collapse of the KG financing system. While Norwegian owners ordered less than their German counterparts between 2005 and 2013 (36.6m GT), activity was relatively more consistent over the period with bulkers, tankers and offshore vessels representing around 71% of GT ordered.

Eastern Wind?
There has been strong growth in the Asia/Pacific owned fleet over the last decade with its market share rising from 36% at the start of 2005 to 41% at the start of this year. Chinese owners accounted for 31% of the 340.6m GT ordered over this period, with bulkers representing around 62% of the tonnage. While Japanese owners ordered the most tonnage of any owner nation 2005-8 (75.0m GT), 70% more than Chinese owners, average Japanese ordering volumes have fallen 64% since and stood at 6.7m GT p.a. 2009-13. Similarly, South Korean shipowners, who contracted the sixth largest volume of GT globally 2005-13 (46.1m GT), saw the volume of tonnage ordered decline by 42% after 2005-8 with an average of 3.8m GT ordered p.a. 2009-13. Meanwhile, the volume of GT contracted by Singaporean owners has been fairly stable 2005-13 with 30.5m GT ordered.
So, the share of global tonnage contracted by owners in Asia/Pacific and Europe has converged again in recent years. With the European owned orderbook currently 16% larger than the Asia/Pacific region’s (74.7m GT), owners in Europe may maintain their leading share of global GT for a little longer. Recent trends in contracting may be helping to slow the closure of the gap between European and Asia/Pacific fleet ownership.

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