Bulk carrier scrapping hit an all-time high in the first quarter 2016

Bulk carrier scrapping hit an all-time high in the first quarter 2016

Bulk carrier demolitions reached an all-time high during the first quarter of 2016, both on an absolute basis and as a percentage of the live fleet, new research from Deutsche Bank says.

The bank estimates that 145 bulk carriers were scrapped during the first three months of this year, totaling 12m tons or around 1.5% of the world’s bulker fleet capacity.

Deutsche Bank said the figures underscore “both the plight of the market as well as the underlying positive factors that will drive a supply-led recovery”.

Historic levels of capesize and panamax bulk carriers have also been scrapped over the past year to date, with some 2.1% and 1.8% of the respective fleets sold for demolition. “These levels of scrappage have been met with little-to-no new ordering, which is positive for prospective supply growth,” the bank said.

It’s a little too soon for optimism, however, as total bulker fleet capacity is still up by 0.4% (equivalent to net growth of 30 ships or 2.9m tons) since 2016 began, owing to 175 deliveries of new bulk carriers.

The bank expects dry bulk capacity to increase by 0.8% by the end of 2016 and decline by just 0.1% in 2017. Historic levels of scrapping and non-deliveries are still being offset by the large orderbook, which is dominated by 2016 deliveries, it said.

“The implication is that any supply-led recovery will take time and be followed by multi-year period of supply contraction, implying a more pronounced recovery is still several years away (i.e. 2019),” the bank noted.

“We do, however, believe recent levels of scrapping – if sustained – should be enough to drive a more rational market in 2017, with spot rates at or slightly above OPEX levels.”

The research says timecharter rates will come under further pressure this year, which will continue to cause asset values to decline. One-year timecharter rates are currently around double spot rates, compared with a 30% average premium since 2010 began, which the bank says shows potential for further declines.

London-based shipbroker Alibra Shipping today estimates one-year timecharter rates for capesizes at $5,500 per day – around 60% higher than the Baltic Capesize Index’s TCA spot rate, which was assessed at $2,151 per day on Tuesday.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.

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