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IMO 2020 helps bring down idle containership tonnage

THE size of the idle containership fleet is starting to shrink slightly as vessels coming out of service to be retrofitted with scrubbers to comply with IMO 2020 are being replaced with idle tonnage

01 May 2019 - 19:00

THE size of the idle containership fleet is starting to shrink slightly as vessels coming out of service to be retrofitted with scrubbers to comply with IMO 2020 are being replaced with idle tonnage.

The idle containership fleet stood at 387,769 TEU, or 1.8 per cent of total global cellular capacity, down 23,413 TEU from the beginning of April, data from Lloyd's List Intelligence shows.



'Overall demand for tonnage is expected to remain high and this should push down the idle fleet further in the coming weeks,' analysts at Alphaliner said. 'However, a similarly optimistic start in spring last year turned into a weak summer as demand faltered in the second half of the year. Owners are hoping that the false dawn in 2018 is not repeated this year.'



The declining number of idle box ships and improving market conditions has helped drive up rates in the charter market, which is soaking up redundant capacity, Alphaliner also noted, reported Lloyd's List.



'A more significant and widespread increase in charter rates will, however, depend on how demand will hold in the next few weeks,' it said. 'This remains unclear at this stage, especially in the face of slowly, but continuously, rising oil prices and downbeat trade growth forecasts for 2019. Cargo rates in certain areas, such as on the Asia-Europe route, are sending wrong signals, with spot rates falling to a new 12-month low.'



Meanwhile, the number of box ships withdrawn from service for scrubber retrofits was expected to rise in the coming months, ahead of the International Maritime Organization's new rule that caps the content of sulphur in marine fuel to 0.5 per cent, effective from January 2020.



Alphaliner has identified 16 ships ranging from 2,900 TEU to 18,000 TEU that are already undergoing retrofit work in Asian yards, reported Lloyd's List.



'The number of containerships to be retrofitted this year will increase steadily, with up to 30 ships expected to be out of service each month in the second half of 2019,' Alphaliner said. 'Most of these retrofits are scheduled to coincide with their regular dry-docking dates in order to minimise the vessels' downtime.'


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