Orders for new containerships doubled so far in 2021 nearly reaching the total tonnage ordered for all of 2021. The orders for new VLCCs are also outpacing the market while dry bulk has lagged, the analysis showed.
'The vast amount of money pouring into container shipping is finding its way into the shipyards, with the current tightness in the supply of ships incentivising some owners to expand their fleets,' says BIMCO chief analyst Peter Sand.
'Although also making good money in the current market, dry bulk owners have been more reluctant to order new tonnage, with the second-hand market proving more popular.'
Total orders for the three largest segments of commercial shipping, containerships, tankers, and dry bulk, increased nearly 120 per cent in the first five months of 2021 versus 2020 when shipowners were reluctant to place orders at the onset of the pandemic.
So far in 2021, BIMCO reports that orders totalling 43.6 million dwt have been placed at shipyards. That compares with 19.8 million in the first five months of 2020. In all of 2020, 49 million dwt was ordered, with the current pace of orders only 11 per cent behind the total for all of last year. As would be expected, the three largest shipbuilding nations, China, South Korea, and Japan, have received the orders.
It has been a record-breaking start to the year for containership orders, says BIMCO. They tally that a total of capacity of 2.2 million TEU has been ordered so far in 2021. This is more than 12 times higher than the 184,254 TEU ordered in the first five months of 2020 and more than 60 per cent higher than the previous record, which dates back to the start of 2005.
The most popular ship type, measured in TEU as well as the number of ships, has been Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) which have a capacity of 15,000 TEU or higher. A total of 89 vessels have been ordered in this category with an average capacity of 16,622 TEU. BIMCO, however, highlights that no containerships between 16,000 and 23,000 TEU have been ordered.
Containership demand is polarised to between 15,000 and 16,000 TEU ships on one side and 24,000 TEU ships on the other. There are 14 orders for what will be the largest containerships in the world, each exceeding 24,000 TEU. However, the majority of the orders have been 15,000 to 16,000 TEU ships. A total of 75 ships with a combined capacity of 1.1 million TEU were ordered in what is now a mid-sized category.
'The biggest of the ULCS are proving less popular with carriers seeing the 15,000-16,000 TEU ships as a better option,' said Mr Sand. 'This is because they still offer solid savings from economies of scale while not putting the same limits on flexibility as the 20,000+ TEU ships have in terms of trading patterns.'
The vast majority of the tonnage ordered so far this year will be delivered in 2023, which according to BIMCO estimates will see 1.5 million TEU delivered. This would make it the busiest year for container ship deliveries since 2015.