Global liner fleet set to surpass 24m teu this year

Two of the world’s most respected container shipping consultants – Alphaliner and Sea-Intelligence – have made their 2020 fleet growth predictions, with the global liner fleet on course to pass the 24m teu mark this year.

Alphaliner is predicting the global containership fleet will grow from 23.23m teu at the beginning of 2020 to reach 24.05m teu by the end of the year, for a growth rate of 3.5%.

“Fleet growth will mainly be driven by the planned deliveries of 1.14m teu of new ships this year, with only minimal slippage expected,” Alphaliner noted in its most recent weekly report.

Alphaliner predicts scrapping and other deletions a to reach 300,000 teu this year, an increase from the 207,500 teu recorded in 2019.

Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence, meanwhile, has predicted in its Sunday Spotlight regular report that supply will grow 3.7% in 2020, 4.4% in 2021, and 2.0% in 2022, but adjusted for likely slippage, it expects 3-3.5% in 2020-2022.

“2020 is expected to see capacity supply reach 1.3M TEU, the highest since 2015, but this is somewhat tempered by our expectation of higher-than-average scrapping of 500,000 TEU, primarily due to a larger number of smaller vessels becoming economically unviable, due to the IMO 2020 low-sulphur regulations,” Sea-Intelligence suggested.

The Danish company expects roughly 200,000 teu worth of ships to be taken out for scrubber installation on an annual basis in 2020, but as the 2019 scrubber capacity is back on-line, the impact from scrubbers will be negligible in 2020.

Of interest, Sea-Intelligence suggests liners’ ordering restraint is bringing the orderbook versus extant fleet ratio towards 10%.

Sea-Intelligence data shows the combined orderbook has decreased marginally in size, from 2.76m teu in December 2018 to 2.57m teu in January 2020. This means that the orderbook as a ratio of the current fleet has decreased from 12.1% in December 2018 to 10.9%, edging ever so close to 10%, which is often advocated by carriers as being a reasonable replacement rate.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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