Due to depressed dry bulk market conditions, which triggered a slump in bulk carrier contracting and in turn led to the newly slim orderbook, which hit a nine-year low at the start of September, the bulk carrier fleet expansion is expected to ease in the coming years, according to Clarksons' Shipping Intelligence Network.
A dearth in ordering has seen the bulk carrier orderbook shrink fairly consistently since mid-2014.
By September 2016, the bulker orderbook had shrunk to 108.4 million dwt, down 19% since the start of the year. This was equivalent to 13.8% of the fleet, down from 17.2% at the start of 2016.
Overall, the bulker orderbook is at its slimmest for almost a decade, despite a 'non-delivery' rate of over 50% in the year to date, according to Clarksons.
Capesize contracting had been in fairly steady decline since the start of 2014, until 30 Valemax 400,000dwt orders were placed in early 2016, which units currently account for 11% of the total bulker orderbook in terms of capacity. Nevertheless, by the start of September 2016 the Capesize orderbook had contracted to a three-year low of 47.1 million dwt, also supported by a 10% YoY rise in Capesize deliveries in January-August 2016.
Meanwhile, by the start of September, the Panamax orderbook shrank to a nine-year low of 21.4 million dwt, driven by the consistent slide in contracting activity in the sector, including for Kamsarmax designs, in recent years.
In 2015, Panamax ordering totalled 6.6 million dwt, down 49% on an annual basis. This was followed by a near total collapse in reported Panamax orders in the first eight months of 2016.
Similarly, newbuild contracting activity has slumped in the smaller Handymax and Handysize sectors, in recent years, before dropping to an almost standstill in January-August 2016. This saw the Handymax and Handysize orderbooks shrink to 28.4 million and 11.5 million dwt respectively by the start of September 2016, representing a 10-year low in both cases.
Clarksons added that, at the start of September, only 60 million dwt, or 55% of the bulk carrier orderbook, was scheduled to be delivered after the close of the current calendar year. This compares to 67% in September 2015.
"The slim orderbook is currently expected to contribute to bulker fleet growth of 2% in full year 2016 followed by around 0.8% in 2017; this compares to average annual growth of around 9% in the period 2010-15," said Clarksons.