Shipbuilding production levels have remained at record high levels exceeding 50 million cgt for two consecutive years (2010 -2011), with 2012 forecasted to remain close to 2011 levels. However the orderbook that forms the contracted forward workload has diminished rapidly and tails-off to very low levels for 2014 and beyond.
Over-tonnaging and large operating inefficiencies mask the true levels of fleet under-utilisation and are hindering a recovery. With the orderbook dominated by bulk carriers and containerships, two of the worst hit markets in terms of over supply wreaking havoc with rates, it reflects the fact that for some time now ordering activity by shipowners has exceed the requirements of trade growth.
To give a clear insight into the prospects for the shipbuilding industry Drewry’s Annual World Shipbuilding Market Review and Forecast report presents three scenarios covering the projected newbuilding requirement by sector and ship type over a fifteen year period, reflecting the uncertainty that surrounds the industry.
Only under the High Case scenario is there a requirement for further new ordering beyond the size of orderbook at the start of 2012. Whereas under the more realistic Base Case in virtually all fleet sectors the size of the orderbook at the start of 2012 more than exceeded the newbuilding requirement to 2016.
The immediate prospects for the shipbuilding industry are therefore bleak. Furthermore access to funding – either through retained reserves or debt is very limited for shipowners and in the circumstances it seems almost inevitable that new ordering levels will remain low for some time to come
Simply the difference between forecast demand and capacity is too great to be bridged by contraction from isolated capacity closure, meaning shipyards will have to fight for survival by securing enough of the limited new ordering that is likely to take place in the next couple of years.
Drewry, November 30, 2012