This decade’s shipping fortunes on a par with the 1990s

If you thought this had been a tough 10 years for shipping, spare a thought for those who worked in the industry during the terrible 1980s.

Clarkson Research Services has run the shipping numbers for this decade and concluded the 2010s are on a par with the 1990s, but are more than 20% better than those endured during the 1980s.

The ClarkSea Index is a weighted average index of earnings for the main vessel types where the weighting is based on the number of vessels in each fleet sector. The world’s largest broker has been able to track earnings for the last 40 years via this index.

For the 2010s, ships have had an average earnings of $12,087 a day, a far cry from the stratospheric $22,239 per day experienced during the Chinese boom years of the 2000s. This decade’s figure is very similar to the $12,019 number recorded during the uninspiring 1990s, but considerably better than the $9,461 per day average recorded during shipping’s nadir years in the 1980s.

“While only gas carrier earnings improved their averages (US energy exports have helped), there have been a number of spikes, most recently with tankers. We have argued previously that, across the decade, the container market has had the toughest run, although since 2014 the offshore market has been struggling with a deeper recession, with structural overcapacity gradually being worked through,” Clarkson Research Services noted in their last weekly report of the year.

Among a host of interesting statistics carried in the Clarkson decade review, China’s share of total seaborne trade has grown from just 2% in the 1980s to a commanding 25% during the 2010s. The rise of China was voted this month by Splash readers as the most significant shipping story of the decade.

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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