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2 février 2023 - Année XXVII
Journal indépendant d'économie et de politique des transports
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FORUM des opérateurs maritimes
et de la logistique


The demand remained strong during the first half of the year while the availability of ships was limited. This high demand came at a time when several 'Gdynia 2000' ships were immobilised for several months in order to change a major default on their main engine.

The market entered a bearish phase in the latter part of the year after the bull run of the previous months, with a relatively high level of availability and a slack demand. Rates remained flat despite this trend but were no longer rising.

Rates remained sustained for a 12-month period, while charterers covered long-term positions at lower levels with tonnage chartered for 36 or 48 months.

From $ 12,000 in the winter 1999-2000, rates for 'Gdynia 2000' ships (2,078 teu / 21 kts on 72 tons / 1995-97) went up to $ 17,000 in March. A ship of this design was fixed early November by Hamburg-S'd for 12 months at $ 17,750, with an option attached for a further 12 months at $ 18,750. Two 'Gdynia 2000' newbuildings were also fixed for 12 months by Lykes at a reported $ 18,000.

In December, modern 2,500 teu tonnage could be obtained for a 12-month period at around $ 17,000 / 18,000 instead of $ 22,000 in September.

A number of 2,500 teu newbuildings coming on stream in 2001 / 2002 were also chartered by batches. There was a consistent influx of orders in the 2,400 / 2,750 teu range, which was dominated by German owners. 74 ships were ordered in the course of the year in this narrow band. However, this sudden and massive ordering of 2,500 teu tonnage can be seen as a correction as there were so few orders in the 2,000 / 3,000 teu range in 1998-99. And it is market driven and not tax driven as it was in the mid-1990s.

CMA CGM MATISSE
2,205 teu, blt 1999 by China SB - Operated by CMA-CGM Group.

 

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The 1,500 / 2,000 teu size range market was very contrasted. During the first half of the year, a sustained demand combined with an unusual low number of newbuilding deliveries led to a severe shortage. The demand was not only fuelled by operators for their usual North-South routes, but also to plug gaps in East-West sailings, or even to make extra sailings (mainly ex China). Humble 1,600 teu ships were thus diverted from their usual work to go along with much larger ones.

With a lack of cellular tonnage in this category, conbulkers made a comeback. Some of them were equipped (or re-equipped) with the needed lashing gear to take advantage of the rates increase.

Szczecin-built 'B-170's rates passed the $ 15,000 mark during the summer, against $ 13,000 in May. CC1600s and Thyssen 1500s were also negotiated at rates circa the $ 15,000 mark during the summer period.

Uniglory took advantage of these strong rates through the chartering out of three of their 'P' class ships (1,618 teu / 18.5 kts on 41.5 tons / 1999-2000) to GWSL for a 24 month-period at a healthy $ 15,500, agreed upon in May for a July laycan.

After a sparkling first half, the market for 1,500 to 2,000 teu ships entered a period of hesitation at the end of the summer. The number of ships available remained low but the demand was itself lower. Some of the few ships open for charter were fixed at the very last minute. The rationalisation of the Europe-ECSA trade by Maersk-Sealand and Hamburg-S'd may have played a role at this time.

In November / December, the 1,500 / 2,000 teu range suffered a lot from an unexpected high number of prompt ships and few charterers. The cascading effect took its toll while rationalisations on some lines using 1,300 / 2,000 teu tonnage have driven ships out. Some ships had to wait several days or weeks before finding employment.

The glut of open ships for prompt delivery is partly explained by the relet of ships that were initially expected to be open for charter in the first half of 2001. The FESCO / GWSL agreement leads to replacing of two services using a total of nine or ten 1,300 / 1,700 teu ships by a single loop using five 1,600 / 1,700 teu ones.

Not only ships of 1,500 / 2,000 teu are squeezed out of the East-West liner trades through such rationalisations, but they also suffer from the introduction of 2,000 / 3,500 teu tonnage on key North-South trades (especially for South America). In a perfect world, they should shift to feeder trades or to intra-Asia trades, from where they would kick-out the 1,000 / 1,500 teu ships, and so on.

The reality is different. Ships of 1,500 / 2,000 teu are still too big for most of the feeder trades and many intra Asia long haul operators (East of Singapore) stick to their 1,000 / 1,500 teu ships.

Given this, it is not surprising that rates fell. Very few charters were concluded in the last weeks of the year. As more ships were building up, owners had to accept much lower rates. In December, B-170s were traded at around $ 12,500. Confirming the downward trend, two 1,740 teu newbuildings with a good speed (20.5 kts on 58 tons / 2001), were fixed by ANZDL for 12-14 months at $ 13,550 / 13,800. A low was reached by a 'BV 1700' (1,684 teu / 19 kts on 48 tons / 1995) which went to Heung-A in December for 12 months at only $ 10,500.
 

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The demand for ships in this size range remained consistent while the supply remained limited, at least until October. Furthermore, very few newbuildings were delivered (as well as in the 1,000 / 1,250 teu range). This is reflected in rates obtained by 'CS1400' vessels (1,388 teu / 18.5 kts on 46 tons / 1992-1995), which reached the $ 13,500 mark during the summer.

After these exceptional months, ships of 1,250 / 1,500 teu started to suffer for the same reasons as their 1,500 / 2,000 teu counterparts. Owners had then to accept lower rates than those enjoyed early September.

In May, a B-186 (1,354 teu / 19.5 kts on 48 tons / 1994) was negotiated at $ 13,200 with a July delivery for a 24-month period. In June, a sister ship was fixed by CMA-CGM at $ 13,875. In December, a sister vessel accepted $ 9,600 for 12 months with Kien Hung.

Illustrating the ups and downs throughout the year, a 'Merkur II' class ship (1,438 teu / 19 kts on 63 tons / 1982 - ice class), was extended in May for six months by Maersk-SeaLand at $ 11,250, a strong rise against the $ 6,500 it made in November 1999 for a similar extension. The same ship went in December to Senator Linie for a period of about four months at $ 8,200. In June, a trio of 18 years old 'Merkur II' ships went to APL for $ 10,800.
 

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Despite a rise and fall in rates over the year, the 1,000 / 1,250 teu ships were less affected than the 1,250 / 2,000 teu ones. The rate increase observed since the 1999 lows were also less spectacular. However, a few ships became prompt as the year 2000 came to its end and this put the rates under pressure. But the demand matched the offer and charter rates remained strong until collapsing at the turn of the year.

Rates peaked during the summer. In July, CMA-CGM extended a 'VW 1100' ship (based on 'BV1000' - 1,122 teu / 19.5 kts on 44 tons / 1996) for 12 months at $ 11,200 while a sister ship was fixed to DAL for $ 11,125. In September, a sister ship got $ 11,050 for a six month charter with Costa for its Transatlantic triangular service while two 'Sietas Type 146' (1,048 teu / 18.5 kts on 40 tons / 1994) were extended for 12 months by P&ON at $ 11,450.

'B-183' / 'RW49' type (1,012 teu / 17.5 kts on 29 tons / 1992-97) got $ 6,500 in January. Rates went up to $ 8,000 / 8,500 in May. In September, they were negotiated at their highest, circa $ 9,000 / 9,200 for a 3 or 6-month period. In November and early December, such ships obtained $ 8,000 / 8,300 for commitments of six to nine months.

The enhanced version (1,162 teu) got around $ 8,000 / 8,500 in March and peaked at $ 10,000 / 10,500 in September / October for a three to twelve month period. It went back to circa $ 9,500 in November for a 12-month period.

Nevertheless, rates went down abruptly at the turn of the year as shown by the $ 7,500 obtained in late December by a 'Gdynia 8125 - Planet' (1,128 teu / 18.5 kts on 37.5 tons / 1995) for a three month-period with Hanjin. A low rate which also reflects the fact that this ship had been relet by its previous charterer and was opened prompt. In October, a sister ship obtained $ 11,000 for a six-month commitment.

'Stadt 1100' ships (1,102 teu / 20 kts on 42 tons / 1998-99) got $ 10,000 in May, reflecting a slight premium for speed. This premium was also reflected with a series of 1,216 teu fast newbuildings (1,216 teu / 22 kts on 63.5 tons / 2000), which obtained $ 10,000 / 10,500 in May and $ 11,000 in December. They are deployed, or will be deployed, on intra Asia services. This is an interesting development as it shows a need for speed, which may cause a rise in demand for such ships by other intra Asia operators. However, at 22 knots, these 1,200 teu ships are quite unique.
 

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Rates for 800 / 1,000 teu ships climbed progressively during the year. There is a strong demand coming from regional feeder trades.

Illustrating the trend, a Turkey-built 'Box' class ship (812 teu / 18.5 kts on 33 tons / 2000) went to Shandong Marine at mid year for $ 6,700 while her sister obtained $ 6,100 in April. In August, a sister ship went to CMA-CGM for six months at $ 7,250.

In September, ships of 800 to 1,000 teu enjoyed a mini-boom. Fast, modern tonnage in this category passed the $ 10,000 mark, a level unseen since the peak period of 1995-96.

However, rates did not explode as they did for the large vessels but neither had they plunged as deep. Another factor may prevent any exaggerated rise: there are plenty of compact multipurpose tonnage around plying tramp trades that can easily be transferred to the feeder ship market.

A 'Szczecinska B-188' newbuilding (907 teu / 18.5 kts on 34 tons / ex-yard September) was reported fixed by Costa Container Lines in August at $ 8,750 for 12 months. Existing 'B-188' ships, which are slower (907 teu / 17.5 kts on 31 tons / 1995-1999) obtained about $ 8,100 / 8,600, against $ 7,500 four months earlier.

There is also a premium for speed in this category, as shown by the 12 months extensions by DAL of two 'Sietas Type 155' (910 teu e 19 kts on 37 tons / 1996) at $ 10,900.

By comparison, two older and slower 'Nordsino'-type ships (844 teu / 15 kts on 22 tons / 1983) were extended in September for 12 months by Hub Line at $ 5,500 for local intra Asia trading.

Ships of 600 / 700 teu are not performing as well as their 800 / 1,000 teu counterparts. In October / November, modern 650 / 700 teu cellular ships got $ 6,200 / 7,300, according to their speed. Two 'Sietas Typ 156' (646 teu / 17.5 kts on 32 tons / 1995) were extended for 12 months by OOCL at $ 7,225 / 7,325. Two 'Hakata 600 L' sisters (653 teu / 15.5 kts on 21 tons / 1997) were extended in October by APL and PIL for six and twelve months at $ 6,200/6,350 while a sister got $ 6,600 from P&ON one month earlier.

Signs of a slight improvement were also observed for the 500 / 600 teu range. Modern ships of 500 / 520 teu got $ 4,700 at mid year, against $ 4,300 / 4,400 two months earlier.

Rates for 'RW 39' ships (582 teu / 15.5 kts on 19 tons / 1980-1986) took off from the $ 4,000 / 4,200 in January to reach $ 5,000 in March, $ 6,000 in July. Rates remained strong, at around $ 6,000, for the latter part of the year.

However, in July, two 'Marcon 400' ships (408 teu / 16 kts on 17 tons / 1997) were fixed respectively to Associated Transport Lines (extension) and CMA-CGM at a reported $ 4,350. This shows a rate slide as both were fixed at a stagnant $ 4,700 during the past 12 months.
 


liner top operators


 

The containership second-hand market

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The chronic shortage of large ships (above 2,500 teu) and the impossibility to obtain newbuildings with a short notice may have triggered-off a decision, not seen in the recent years from a large operator to consider second-hand ships as a way to boost its fleet (with the notable exception of MSC). CP Ships has bought seven ships of around 3,000 teu to continue to develop the activities of its subsidiaries. This decision provides also an indication that the charter market for such ships is expected to remain bullish and on the owners side for some time.

Besides CP Ships, Norwegian and Israel buyers have dominated the second-hand market, confirming the trend observed in 1999. Sellers have been mostly East Asian operators needing cash in order to keep afloat their operation or to improve their end year results. It can be said that without these sellers, the volume of second-hand deals for ships above 2,500 teu would have been reduced.

The market for these large ships was shared equally between sales/charter-back deals and straight sales. Cash-strapped Korean owners continued to sell ships with t/c back. Norwegian owners continued to show an interest into buying such ships. This move can be interpreted as a wish to diversify their assets in order not to rely only on the bulker or tanker sectors.

In 2000, Korean owners Hyundai and Choyang have sold 10 ships of 2,700 to 4,400 teu, all with charters back to the sellers. The number of large Korean ships sold since the beginning of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 amounts to 26 sales. In addition to this, an order for five 6,400 teu ships, reported as contracted by Hyundai in late 1999, was taken over in the spring 2000 by the Ofer-controlled company Zodiac Shipping, with a ten year charter to Hyundai.

The activity has been very reduced in the 1,500 / 2,000 teu range. Strong charter rates, at least until the end of the year, may have played a role in dissuading owners to sell. Only four ships were reported sold in this category, including two resales of newbuidling contracts.

A dozen of cellular-ships were reported changing hands in the 1,000 / 1,500 teu range, most deals were straight sales. In addition, four multipurpose ships of 23,500 dwt / 1,200 teu were sold.

Generally speaking whilst the market substantially progressed all over the year 2000, the market reached a plateau in the summer, followed by a price softening for the medium/low size range. Nevertheless, it remained very difficult after the summer to trace charter-free quality ships in the large sizes (above 2,500 teu).

It looks like most of the owners decided to keep their vessels, enjoying lower but still comfortable market rates. After the summer, unless the lines required immediate tonnage, the buyers became more selective or even preferred not to move, awaiting to see where the market was going.

At the end of 2000 the market dropped, but we remain fully confident that the prices should pick up again as from summer or autumn 2001.
 




Shipping and Shipbuilding Markets in 2000

I N D E X

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