The number of 'active' shipyards globally has more than halved since the start of 2009, falling to around 400 shipyards at the start of September 2016, with rapid growth in the total followed by steep decline all within the last decade, according to Clarkson Research.
Global contracting surged by 78% from 2002 to peak in 2007, with the orderbook peaking in 2009. With capacity expanding to meet this demand, the number of active yards skyrocketed, rising by 72% from 2005 to a peak of 931 yards in 2009.
However, since the financial crisis, the shrinking orderbook has led the number of active yards, ones which have at least one vessel (1,000+ GT) on order, to decline.
As of start September 2016 there were 402 active yards, down 57% on the 2009 peak, according to Clarkson Research.
Alongside this drop in the number of active yards, newbuild output has fallen and this year is projected to stand 34% below its 2010 peak in CGT terms.
Chinese Yards Losing Bulk
From 2005, the number of active Chinese yards grew rapidly, increasing 117% to a peak of 382 yards in 2009. Many of the new yards specialised in the bulk carrier sector. Since then, the number of active Chinese yards has dropped by 63%, with almost half of these closures accounted for by 'small' yards that had delivered two ships or fewer.
There were just 140 active Chinese yards at the start of September 2016, or around 35% of all active yards globally. The number of active yards in Japan has been more steady, peaking at 71 in 2008, before falling 17% by September 2016, when 59 were reported to have an orderbook.
At the same time, larger Korean yards have mostly remained active up to today. Elsewhere, post-2008, European yards struggled to compete for the more limited number of orders.
By September 2016, 140 fewer European yards were active than back in 2008.
Challenge to Be Active
Clarkson Research said that, looking ahead, many active yards appear vulnerable today. Around 240 currently active shipyards are scheduled to deliver their last units on order by the end of 2017.
Some of these yards may yet receive orders or have deliveries delayed, however, around a quarter of active yards have only a single ship on order, while around 40% are not reported to have taken a contract since 2014.
Only 59 builders have deliveries due into 2019 and beyond.
"The number of active yards has more than halved since 2009, with a prominent feature being the exit of many Chinese builders from the scene. With ordering levels likely to remain subdued going forward, some shipyards that do not already have substantial orderbooks may also find remaining active a challenge," Clarksons' Christopher Pearce said.