02 April 2015

[020415.EN.SEA] Owners See Ship Supply Shrink With Orderbooks as Builders Offer Bargains

SHIPOWNERS who charter out ships to liner operators are optimistic the market is reviving and that charter rates are recovering as carriers come to close the supply and demand gap that is expected to shrink in 2016 and beyond.

"We are going to see a re-acceleration of trade over the next two years and given the fact that the orderbook now is at 18 per cent of the global fleet compared to 50 per cent in 2009," said Global Hunter Securities analyst Charles Lupinski.

"Demand is going to outstrip growth and that we are going to have opportunities to have price increases and a tighter overall market," he told the 9th Annual Capital Link International Shipping & Offshore Forum in New York.

Mr Lupinski said liner shipping companies were turning to the charter markets to fulfil their needs for new, more fuel-efficient and cost-effective containerships, reported Newark's Journal of Commerce.

"The liner companies want to preserve their capital for things like terminals," he said.

More than half of the fleets operated by the top 20 container lines are chartered, according to Alphaliner.

A panel of four independent shipowners told the forum that demand for newer charter vessels is picking up while ship operators are managing to control capacity through slow-steaming and alliances.

German Society for Maritime Technology president Herman Klein said prospects for better return on new containerships is enhanced by low oil prices.

"Lots of offshore projects are on hold, so the major shipyards of the world are hungry for new orders and this might lead to lower prices for new container vessels," said Dr Klein, who becomes chief operating officer of Offen Ship, a German charterer with a fleet of 100 containerships, bulkers and product tankers.

Hong Kong-administered Seaspan CFO Sai Chu said new ship orders are currently at their lowest level for a decade.

"The liners have been working together to rationalise supply, and there is an interest in large ships, so broadly we see a well-balanced orderbook with industry fundamentals improving, which we expect to continue going forward," he said.

"So our forecast is for an improving environment for the industry and ultimately it's a good place for container ship owners to be," said Mr Sai.

Said Euroseas CEO Aristides Pittas: "We see an improving market, not so much within this year, but more within next year."

The containership market this year is expected to progress much as it did last year, but will show marked improvement next year, as new ship deliveries slow, said chairman and chief executive of Euroseas, Aristides Pittas.

"Overall in 2016, when new ship deliveries will only be a bit more than half of what they will be this year, we think there will be a very good market," said Mr Pittas, whose company owns a fleet of dry bulkers and box ships.

"And demand is sure to be good enough, so our best case calls for a not too surprisingly good market in 2015. And 2016 should be great, but this is shipping and anything can happen," he said.

Said Danaos Corp CFO Evangelos Chatzis: "On the back of the slow year in ordering in 2014, we will not have as many ships in the water so demand will outpace supply in 2016."

Mr Chatzis said Danaos, a Greek company that owns 56 containerships, is buying 18,000- and 20,000-TEUers, but only with contracts for long-term charters in place. "You cannot go wrong acquiring ships at historically low prices," he said.

Source : HKSG.

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