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Stopford predicts supply/demand equilibrium by 2021

It’ll take through to 2021 before the supply/demand equilibrium becomes favourable for shipping, the world’s most famous shipping analyst, Clarkson’s Dr Martin Stopford told the Maritime CEO Forum in Hong Kong.

In an opening Q&A session to the event, moderated by Splash columnist Neville Smith, Stopford said the four-year hiatus was needed to get rid of underlying surplus which, he said, was currently hidden by slow steaming. The 2021 prediction would make the downturn in shipping the longest recorded for more than 170 years, Stopford said.

The Clarkson analyst said shipping was “past the trough” with the shipyard orderbook finally coming down. Recovery at the moment was slow, and a key to a sustained uptick would be in shipbuilding capacity.

“The inflection point for shipyards is getting to the point where it is getting unpleasant,” Stopford said, highlighting the extremely short orderbooks in South Korea in particular.

When quizzed by Smith, the founder of Mariner Communications, on where best to invest in shipping today, Stopford plumped for discounted newbuild aframax tankers with the latest coatings.

The Maritime CEO Forum took place in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central, Hong Kong with sessions on tankers, bulkers and crewing – reports from which will be carried throughout this week. 

The event was sponsored by Anglo-Eastern, Cobham, Dualog, DVB Bank, Liberian Registry, RightShip, Veritas Petroleum Services, and V.Ships Agency.

The high level, by invite only shipowner gathering returns to Singapore on March 13.


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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