Clarksons: Niche Sectors See Better Earnings in 2016

Market conditions across most sectors of the shipping industry in 2016 have been highly challenging and things in many sectors appear to be as bad as they have ever been, according to Clarksons Research.

In the wider fleet some niche sectors have seen better earnings, but even so, most shipowners will surely be hoping that 2017 brings with it a significant change in fortunes, Clarksons said.

The ClarkSea Index, an average of earnings for tankers, bulkers, boxships and gas carriers, averaged USD 10,574 per day in November 2016, down 11% on the average since the start of 2009, a handy marker for the onset of the downturn. In the dry bulk sector, the market has been under significant pressure for some time, and in November 2016, Capesize spot earnings stood 14% below the average since 2009.

Meanwhile, oil tanker earnings have fallen this year, from a strong 2015, despite robust trade growth. Clarksons informed that firm fleet growth in both the crude and product tanker sectors has placed pressure on the tanker markets, with clean MR average spot earnings in November 23% below the average since start 2009.

The specialised shipping sectors are faring little better. LPG market conditions have deteriorated acutely this year, reflecting the impact of rapid fleet growth, taking the one year VLGC timecharter rate from over USD 70,000 per day in mid-2015 to just USD 17,466 per day in November 2016. LNG market conditions have remained challenging, but may have now bottomed out, according to Clarksons.

The PCTC market has also come under pressure, with the rate for a 6,500 ceu vessel averaging USD 16,000 per day in November, down 24% on the average since start 2009. In the general cargo sector, the boxship charter market has been notably depressed, with rates at bottom of the cycle levels. The 6-12 month charter rate for a 2,750 TEU boxship stood at USD 6,050 per day in November, 26% lower than the average since start 2009.

“However, in some of the niche general cargo areas, things look a little better,” as timecharter rates for Ro-Ro vessels have firmed this year, with the November rate for a 4,000 lm vessel up by 43% on the average since 2009.

Clarksons said that some niches are performing more strongly than others, with passenger ferry charter rates in November up 46% on their start 2015 level, and the cruise sector in full-on expansion mode.

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