Despite a significant increase in the global shipping fleet over the previous five years, the offshore sector has seen vessel numbers decline as demand remained more constrained and poor markets encouraged removals.
According to the most recent Clarksons Research data, the mobile offshore fleet as a whole is presently 59 units fewer than it was in 2017. The most dramatic decreases in numbers have occurred in the sectors most exposed to exploration and appraisal.
The seismic survey fleet has fallen by 12% to 196 units, while the semisub drilling unit fleet has been reduced by 30% to 121 units, with some substitution in favor of drillships, which have shrunk by 18% to 97 units.
The offshore support vessel fleet has also decreased to 2,440 units, with the AHTS fleet down 6% since the beginning of 2017, and the marketable fleet is expected to be much smaller given that a portion of the fleet has been in long-term lay-up since 2014-15, according to Clarksons. PSV fleet numbers, on the other hand, remain practically flat, with the sector absorbing a considerable number of newbuilds since 2014.
Some shipping sectors have seen vessel numbers decrease, such as the panamax containership fleet, which has decreased by 9% since the beginning of 2017, the car carrier and MPP segments, which have declined by 2%, and conventional reefer figures, which have decreased by 8%, according to the most recent data. Vessel numbers, however, increased significantly in numerous sectors, including tankers (14%), bulkers (13%), and containerships (7%).
“Falling vessel numbers in some sectors illustrate that a range of underlying trends have been present within the backdrop of continued overall fleet growth,” Clarksons noted in its most recent weekly report.