Global container fleet swells to 23m TEU - scrapping slows and demand weakens
SO far this year 826,000 TEU of cellular capacity on some 108 vessels has been received by liner operators, raising the total global containership fleet capacity to 23 million TEU, according to Alphaliner data
22 September 2019 - 19:00
However, the newbuilds, mostly consisting of ultra large container vessels (ULCVs), have arrived at a time of weaker demand growth across the world's major tradelanes, which is driving shipping lines to cancel a significant number of headhaul sailings, reported London's Loadstar.
Indeed, 2M partners, Maersk and MSC have just announced that the 'temporary suspension' of their AE2/Swan Asia-North Europe loop would commence one week earlier than planned, with the final schedule sailing from Qingdao on September 25 also being cancelled.
Ocean carriers received 91,000 TEU of newbuild tonnage in the last week alone, including two further MSC Gulsun-series 23,000 TEU+ vessels; the 21,230 TEU Cosco Shipping Planet and the 20,240 TEU Ever Globe.
Most of the new mega ships will be deployed on the Asia-Europe tradelane, triggering a cascading affect that will push the incumbent tonnage to secondary routes which is likely to pull down freight rates in those markets.
The scrapping of older ships has stalled, with only 165,000 TEU reported to have been sold for demolition to date, due to a strong charter market driven by the demand for substitute vessels to cover scrubber installations on the existing fleet.
'Some of the demand increase since June is related to vessel downtime for scrubber installations. A total of 44 ships with an overall capacity of 465,000 TEU are currently undergoing retrofit work at various shipyards,' said Alphaliner.
Brokers in London and Hamburg have confirmed to The Loadstar in recent weeks that open mid-sized container tonnage has become 'very scarce', especially in the panamax and above sectors, and there are anecdotal reports of daily hire rates doubling within six months for the most sought-after ships.
However, this artificial charter market demand, caused by the looming International Maritime Organization's 0.5 per cent sulphur cap regulations on marine fuels, is masking the weakening fundamentals of global trade.
Last week, shipping association Bimco reiterated its expectation for containership scrapping at some 200,000 TEU for the full year but warned that the 'fundamental balance of the container shipping market will worsen this year'.
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