Archives for posts with tag: shipyards

In 2016 the shipping industry saw significant supply side adjustments in reaction to continued market pressures. For shipbuilders this meant a historically low level of newbuild demand with fewer than 500 orders reported in 2016, and the volume of tonnage on order declined sharply. Meanwhile, higher levels of delivery slippage and strong demolition saw fleet growth fall to its lowest level in over a decade.SIW1256

Pressure Building Up

2016 was an extremely challenging year for the shipbuilding industry. Contracting activity fell to its lowest level in over 20 years with just 480 orders reported, down 71% year-on-year. Domestic ordering proved important for many builder nations and 68% of orders in dwt terms reported at the top three shipbuilding nations were placed by domestic owners last year. Despite a 6% decline in newbuild price levels over 2016, few owners were tempted to order new ships, especially with the secondhand market offering ‘attractive’ opportunities. Only 48 bulkers and 46 offshore units were reported contracted globally last year, both record lows, and tanker and boxship ordering was limited. As a result, just 126 yards were reported to have won an order (1,000+ GT) in 2016, over 100 yards fewer than in 2015.

A Spot Of Relief

However, a record level of cruise ship and ferry ordering provided some positivity in 2016. Combined, these ship sectors accounted for 52% of last year’s $33.5bn estimated contract investment. European shipyards were clear beneficiaries, taking 3.4m CGT of orders in 2016, the second largest volume of orders behind Chinese shipbuilders’ 4.0m CGT. Year-on-year, contracting at European yards increased 31% in 2016 in terms of CGT while yards in China, Korea and Japan saw contract volumes fall by up to 90% year-on-year.

Further Down The Chain

In light of such weak ordering activity, the global orderbook declined by 29% over the course of 2016, reaching a 12 year low of 223.3m dwt at the start of January 2017. This is equivalent to 12% of the current world fleet. The number of yards reported to have a vessel of 1,000 GT or above on order has fallen from 931 yards back at the start of 2009 to a current total of 372 shipbuilders.

Final Link In The Chain

Adjustments to the supply side in response to challenging market conditions in 2016 have also been reflected in a slower pace of fleet growth. The world fleet currently totals 1,861.9m dwt, over 50% larger than at the start of 2009, but its growth rate slowed to 3.1% year-on-year in 2016. This compares to a CAGR of 5.9% between 2007 and 2016 and is the lowest pace of fleet expansion in over a decade. A significant uptick in the ‘non-delivery’ of the scheduled start year orderbook in 2016, rising to 41% in dwt terms, saw shipyard deliveries remain steady year-on-year at a reported 100.0m dwt. Further, strong demolition activity helped curb fleet growth in 2016 with 44.2m dwt reported sold for recycling, an increase of 14% year-on-year.

End Of The Chain?

So it seems that the ‘market mechanism’ has finally been kicking into action. A more modest pace of supply growth might be welcome news to the shipping industry but further down the chain shipbuilders are suffering. Contracting levels plummeted in 2016 and the orderbook is now significantly smaller. Even with the ongoing reductions in yard capacity, shipbuilders worldwide remain under severe pressure and will certainly be hoping for a more helpful reaction in 2017.

As the many Greek players in the shipping industry know well, the legend of Icarus tells us the dangers of flying too high. Merchant vessel earnings eventually found their 2008 heights just as unsustainable, even as some talked of a “new paradigm”. Most will be familiar with the lengthy downturn that has followed. But spare a thought for the offshore markets, now going through their own Icarus moment.

Flying On The Dragon’s Back

As with the expectations of some in the shipping industry that Chinese demand for raw materials would grow indefinitely, the consensus over the 2010-13 period was that oil prices were set to remain above $100/bbl. Oil demand growth seemed firm and supply growth scarce as decline in output from ageing onshore fields undermined growth from new deepwater offshore regions. The offshore sector attracted interest from shipyards in both Korea and China, and amongst traditional shipowners (including some Greek players).

The precipitous fall from grace of the main shipping markets in late 2008 seemed to presage a tough and lengthy downturn. As the graph shows, the ClarkSea Index (an indicator of merchant sector vessel earnings) fell by more than 80% in a matter of weeks, and offshore support vessel (OSV) and rig dayrate indices fell by 50%. Yet, by late 2009, the oil price had bounced back, and offshore units seemed like attractive investment opportunities for diversification away from over-supplied shipping sectors.

On The Right Path?

For some years, offshore investors seemed to have taken the correct turning, as dayrates for rigs and OSVs soared, and by 2013 were close to the heights reached prior to the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the ClarkSea Index remained earthbound, with earnings hampered by a sluggish world economy and phases of newbuilding activity, as government stimulus and low newbuilding prices combined to boost counter-cyclical orders.

For Icarus, the heat of the sun proved to be his undoing. In the case of the offshore markets, the heights they reached were dashed by an unexpected underground source of oil and gas. Few saw coming the game-changing effect that technological change would have on the oil supply-demand balance. Fracking produced 3.8m bpd of additional onshore oil supply from US shale by 2015.

Initially, the effect of this extra supply was hidden, by outages due to political instability in areas such as Libya, Russia, and Iraq. But as oversupply of about 2m bpd became clearer, Saudi Arabia refused to resolve the problem through a unilateral oil output cut.

Down To Earth

Today the offshore markets look to be in an equally or even more challenged position than the major shipping segments. Dayrates for both rigs and OSVs have fallen by 40-50% over the course of the last eighteen months. There is currently little positive sentiment, and many assume that the near future for these offshore sectors could come to resemble the ClarkSea Index’s recent past. But cyclicality, after all, has been a part of these industries for decades. As the best Greek asset players will tell you, the key is to ride a market upturn, but to get out before you get too close to the sun.

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Well, summer’s here and shipping investors are heading for the sun and a bit of relaxation. It’s halfway through the year, so it’s also a chance to reflect on the last six months, and maybe speculate a little about the next. But to enjoy this diverting task, you need the right sort of drink and we think Greta Gronholm’s cocktail My Green Summer (MGS), voted IBA cocktail of the year in 2013, might be just the thing.

Shaken And Stirred

The shipping cocktail in the chart has three ingredients – a bland but pleasantly oily world economy, fruity freight rates, with an intrusive hint of bad bulker, and cool prices. Give it a good shake and you can drink it but you’d be much better off sticking to Greta’s award winning brew.

Economy – Bland With Attitude

My Green Summer is based on the economical Martini Prosecco, a suitably affordable fizz to toast OECD industry whose growth rate halved to less than 2% pa in the first half of 2015. China is a worry, with imports down 7%, as the steel industry finally peaked out, and there are concerns about its $28 trillion debt problem, a real estate bubble and the stock market. But My Green Summer spices things up with a dollop of exclusive Grey Goose La Poire vodka. Luckily oil prices, down 46% since last year, are doing the same thing for the economic cocktail. Cheap oil is sweetening up world oil demand, and the IEA in June revised its demand forecast up to 1.4 million bpd growth in 2015, a helpful 1.5% increase.

Revenue Tasty By Tart

On the earnings front, the last six months was surprisingly flavoursome. My Green Summer adds Routin 1883 Green Apple, Routin 1883 Passionfruit, and a touch of Call Premium Lime juice. You can taste all these fruity flavours in the market, with oil tanker earnings up 110%, gas carriers up 26%, and (a bit sharper) containerships up 36%. With most segments doing better in the first half-year, the Clarksea Index was up by 29%. But whoever mixed the cocktail wasn’t paying attention. Although tanker rates were historically strong, boxships are still struggling to cover depreciation and the miserable dry bulk performance, with average earnings of only $6,500/day is leaving drinkers with an very unpleasant aftertaste.

Asset Prices Cucumber Cool

The final ingredient of My Green Summer is a slug of Le Sirop de Monin Cucumber, which pretty well describes asset prices – cool. Bulker prices dropped 34% as investors, after the euphoria of 18 months ago, cooled to the prospect of an imminent market recovery, concluding there’s too much capacity everywhere. Meanwhile, secondhand prices for crude tankers have risen year-on-year bur product tanker prices have fallen away on the same basis. Meanwhile the shipyards are discounting prices, especially for the bigger ships.

Not Really An Award Winner?

So there you have it. A fizzy world economy, shaken up with a dash of cheap oil; some fruity tanker earnings, a large slug of bulker bitters all shaken with a measure of Le Sirop de Sluggish Sentiment. It’s not really a classic cocktail is it? Have a nice day.

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