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Huge reduction in dry bulk vessels ordered in 2015 to date

London: Only 27 dry bulk vessels have been ordered so far this year, a 91% contraction compared with the 301 bulkers ordered during the first two months of 2014, according to research compiled by Splash.

The vessels ordered so far this year are mostly small bulkers. Only seven vessels are over 70,000 dwt.

Barely any capesize vessels have been ordered so far in 2015 – at the end of January, MOL ordered three 240,000-dwt super-capesize ore carriers from Japan’s Imabari yard. In contrast, 70 capesize vessels were ordered during the first two months last year.

During the same period, 47 kamsarmaxes were ordered in 2014 – but none so far this year.

The remaining vessels ordered this year are almost all handymaxes, plus four 31,600-dwt panamaxes, two of which are for New York-listed Scorpio Bulkers and the others for Greece’s Efshipping, Splash data says. A 5,000-dwt cement carrier is also being built in Germany for an unknown carrier.

The average size of vessel ordered in the first two months last year was 92,705 dwt, compared with 68,828 dwt this year to date or 47,431 dwt excluding the three super-cape vessels.

The high vessel ordering activity seen early last year was due to an influx of funding from private equity. A total of $406m in dry bulk equity was raised in the final quarter 2013, of which $351m was raised that December alone, encouraged by the peak in capesize rates that month, when the average day rate for a 2000-built cape was $42,000.

Even more equity has been raised in the dry bulk sector in the same period a year later – $450m in the final quarter 2014 plus a further $245m in January – but this has yet to translate into vessel orders.

In spite of the huge equity injections seen in the past few months, listed shipping companies have been reluctant to order vessels while share prices and asset values flounder.

The average share price performance of all publicly listed dry bulk shipping companies in January 2015 was 56% below that seen six months earlier, according to Jeffries data.

Similarly, the ratio of these companies’ average share price to net asset value per share has fallen 56% since July 2014 to a ratio of 64% in January this year, Jeffries says.

Rates in the dry cargo shipping market continue to be driven down by vessel oversupply. Today, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) climbed four points on yesterday to reach 516 points. The Baltic handysize and panamax indices grew by eight and two points respectively.

A weak capesize market is still holding the BDI back – the Baltic capesize index has contracted every day since February 10.

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.


  1. So, tell us: Have shipping companies learned from their past mistakes of overordering? Or will the newbuilding orders start flooding again as soon as the market improves?

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