Yards max out slots for large-sized tonnage through to 2024

Owners wanting to place orders at yards for large-sized tonnage are going to have to be patient with most reputable shipbuilders now unable to offer any delivery slots for big ships until 2024.

The Qataris decision last year to book up to 100 slots for large LNG carrier construction combined with extreme ultra-large boxship ordering over the last eight months has seen berths taken up at key yards across Asia.

Data from brokers BRS shows that remarkably in just week 17 of the year, on a number of ships basis, total vessel ordering activity so far in 2021 already equates to 48% and 46% of the orders placed in 2020 and the average number of orders placed per year across 2016 to 20, respectively.

Banchero Costa reported earlier this month that more newbuilds were contracted in the first three months of the year than in any Q1 since 2008, the final year of shipping’s last great bull-run.

Total vessel ordering activity so far in the first 17 weeks of 2021 equates to 48% of the orders placed in 2020

Alphatanker, a unit of BRS, is reporting today that it is now almost impossible for owners to order a large tanker in a Chinese yard for delivery before 2024. Increasingly, Korean yards are in a similar situation, all of which has had the knock-on effect of increasing valuations for secondhand tonnage.

This sudden full up nature of yards in Asia for large-sized ships was touched upon last week by Hugo De Stoop, the CEO of Euronav. Commenting on the decision to order two VLCCs at Hyundai Samho in South Korea, De Stoop discussed rising steel prices and constraints over yards capacity to 2024.

“While contracting and orderbook-to-fleet ratio remains at an historical low in the tanker segment, elevated contracting activity from other segments has reduced available capacity to build VLCCs for the upcoming years at a time when the sector needs to replace maturing vessels with more environmentally friendly designs,” Euronav stated in a release last week.

Boxship ordering has been to the fore in 2021. March, for instance, saw a stunning 866,060 teu of new tonnage ordered, almost the same as was contracted throughout the whole of 2020.

In all of 2020, a total 995,000 teu of container shipping capacity was ordered. Capacity ordered in the first quarter of 2021 reached 1,398,000 teu, and has continued with many orders coming to light in April.

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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