BIMCO foresees supply growth will keep freight rates down this year

GLOBAL container shipping demand rose 3

BIMCO foresees supply growth will keep freight rates down this year
06 September 2018 - 19:06

GLOBAL container shipping demand rose 3.8 per cent in the first half, less than the nominal fleet growth of 3.9 per cent, according to the London-based Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).

Global volume demand has been in the decline since April suggesting that this year will experience lower demand growth than last year, reported Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide.

Currently, 83 per cent of the newbuilds delivered this year have a capacity of at least 10,000 TEU and have been constructed for long sailing distances. This compares to 37 per cent of the volume growth being intra-regional trades such as intra-Asia or intra-Europe, said BIMCO study.

The positive economic development in Europe is reflected by imported volumes, which have so far this year risen 4.1 per cent (+646,000 TEU).

But these imports are growing on secondary, middle-distance trades from North America, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, and South and Central America to other countries - trades that are currently deploy ships below 10,000 TEU.

Growth on the longest distance trade lane from the Far East, which accounts for half of all European imports and 10 per cent of global volumes, rose by just 1.3 per cent (+99,000 TEU) in the first six months of the year.

The development was better on the long-distance trade from the Far East into North America, which saw imports rise by 214,000 TEU (7.1 per cent). Imports into South and Central America grew strongly in all overseas trades apart from North America. Growth rates of between 11 and 18 per cent were recorded from Asia, Europe and the Indian subcontinent and Middle East.

The capacity of the fleet is growing too fast for the demand to cope with it. The yards have delivered 947,000 TEU of new build containership capacity, slightly above expectations.

'What has been completely off our expectations has been the fact that only 36,833 TEU of capacity was demolished by early August.

During Q2 2018 just five ships (9,608 TEU) were taken out. It's been 10 years since we last had such a low level of capacity removed. Only small and old ships have been broken up,' said BIMCO.

'In 2018 the average ship being demolished was 24 years old with a capacity of 1,754 TEU. In 2017 the average ship was 21 years old and 2,807 TEU in size.'

BIMCO noted that the 'roller-coaster ride of reductions and reactivations of the idle fleet' has pushed up the active supply growth, resulting in 'falling freight rates as demand is growing at a lower pace. Starting the year at 417,000 TEU, the idle fleet dropped to 200,000 TEU by February only to rebound strongly to 627,000 TEU by March. As per end of July 341,000 TEU is idle.'

BIMCO has revised its demolition estimate downwards, from 250,000 TEU to just 80,000 TEU. This results in an estimated nominal fleet growth of 5.5 per cent this year.

New build deliveries for the remainder of the year are still biased toward the ultra large container ship (ULCS) but not as much as in the first seven months. The share of ULCS capacity comes down from 83 per cent to 71 per cent for the final five months.

Looking ahead, BIMCO noted that it had 'expected the fundamental balance to improve in 2018 and higher freight rates across the board as a result of the fleet growing slower than demand; now it seems as if it's not going to happen.

'This is partly because of demand growing marginally less than expected but mostly because of much faster fleet expansion.'

On a brighter note it added that '2019 is on target for much more manageable fleet growth that not even a very low level of demolition would be capable of putting off track unless a sudden rush by shipowners towards the yards emerges.'

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