AN "infectious" trend toward ordering more and bigger box ships seems unstoppable as carriers fulfil their alliance capacity commitments, reports Lloyd's List.
The average ship order size in 2014 was 7,500-TEU, but in the first quarter of 2015, the average was 13,600 TEU, said London's Braemar ACM Shipbroking.
The current newbuilding orderbook, as of May 1, consists of 427 vessels, with 157 boasting capacities of 10,000 TEU or more, said Braemar.
Shipbrokers say 500,000 TEU in new capacity has been ordered in first quarter, with Braemar estimating that ultra large ships represent half of the one million TEU ordered in all of 2014.
Of the 36 units ordered in the first quarter, 23 or 64 per cent were in the 10,000-TEU or above range.
Quarterly orders include six 20,000-TEUers from G6's Orient Overseas (International) Ltd, four 20,000 TEUers from fellow G6-er MOL - with OOCL chartering another two of the same class while CKYHE partner Evergreen plans to charter eleven 18,000 TEUers.
Despite the Chinese Newbuilding Price Index showing relatively flat prices so far in 2015 for the containership segment, Braemar expects an upward correction if prices if charter remain high.
"We can also expect more interest in the newbuilding activity as potential buyers sense a pending price increase," the broker said.
Much of this capacity is set to be rolled out on the Asia-Europe trade, which is suffering from significant oversupply and, as Braemar states, is a long way from being corrected.
"The methodology behind the latest round of ordering has been the infectious strategy to upsize Asia-Europe loops with the biggest ships on offer and this is the alliance effect," said Braemar.
Source : HKSG.