The Shipbuilding Market in
Whereas the year 2000 was exceptional, 2001
despite some highlights was a year of contrasts:
1. The volume of new orders is down considerably with about 36.5
million gross tons as compared to 46.1 million gt last year.
2. This reduced volume of orders has brought to an end the increase in
prices which occurred in 2000; as from mid 2001 there has been a drop
sometimes quite sharp despite the importance of the orderbook world-wide.
3. The level of the orderbook reached in the 2nd quarter of 2001 was
unprecedented with over 75,7 million gt and roughly maintained until the
end of the year, representing an annual growth of about 15 %.
4. A certain stability still prevails between the various shipbuilding
countries. Korea remains in top position with over 30 million gt on order,
followed by Japan with over 20 million gt. Europe and China are in third
and fourth place with about 8.5 million and 7.4 million gt respectively.
5. European shipyards were unable to get the reintroduction of
subsidies from their respective official bodies, which were stopped last
year, whereas the orders of specialised ships were scarce this year, with
the notable exception of LNG carriers which were taken up essentially by
Korean and Japanese shipyards.
In October 2000 the IMF announced a reduced
growth for 2001 but the prospects remained positive.
Unfortunately these economic forecasts have continuously been lowered.
The IMF published successively 3.2 % in May 2001, then 2.6 % in October
2001, then again had to readjust its figures taking into account the
tragic events of September 11th.
After an exceptional world growth of 4.7 % in 2000, 2001 was also an
outstanding year but at the other end of the scale with a growth of only
2.4 %, one of the lowest levels over the last ten years
The growth of world trade in volume has slowed down dramatically to
virtually nothing in 2001, as compared to an increase of over
12 % in 2000.
Freight rates in the three most important sectors of shipping - oil,
dry bulk, and containers - after having been very strong in 2000, have
fallen sharply. Average earnings in the oil sector show a certain
resistance due to the tightening of quality constraints being adopted by
oil companies. Tankers have to meet stricter standards and older ships are
Whilst the pace of orders remained strong during the first half, the
uncertainty in short-term prospects and a significant deterioration in
freight rates meant that owners during the summer started deserting the
Whilst the pace of orders remained strong
during the first half, the uncertainty in short-term prospects and a
significant deterioration in freight rates meant that owners during the
summer started deserting the newbuilding market.
Prices which had increased throughout 2000, while still remaining
relatively attractive since they were below levels that were prevalent
before the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, were not sufficient to entice
potential buyers looking to preserve their cash-flow and who decided to
postpone their investments to a later date.
The world orderbook after having outpaced the 75 million gross ton mark
in June 2001, stabilised until the end of the year.
The geographical breakdown in orders remains relatively constant, whereas
the majority of the increase seen last year went to Korea.
However the breakdown in ships’ types has changed. In 2000 the three
principal newbuilding cycles, that of tankers, bulk carriers, and
containerships, followed the same pattern as illustrated in the graph of
‘Percentages of ships on order over existing fleet’.
This graph illustrates that the dry bulk carrier and containership
cycles started a little earlier (early 1998) than that of tankers (early
1999) and hit their historic highs at the start of 2001 with respectively
16 % for dry bulk carriers and significantly more for containerships with
28 %. The bend in these two curves right from the start of 2001 indicated
already a certain apprehension and a real reduction in the orders for dry
bulk carriers and containerships. Tonnage of dry bulk carriers on order
declined from 39.5 to 25.2 million dwt and that of containerships remained
around 21 million dwt.
The orderbook for tankers continued to rise to reach a figure of 22 %
of the existing fleet thus surpassing the previous historic record of 17 %
in 1991. The tonnage of tankers on order increased in 2001 and went from
46.1 to 64.6 million dwt. This prolongation of the tanker cycle applies
particularly to the categories between 35,000 and 120,000 dwt.
Specialised tonnage, with the exception of LNG carriers, has seen new
orders declining considerably.
Cruise ship operators which made massive investments in 1999 and to a
lesser extent in 2000, only made a single new order in 2001.
The LNG carriers orderbook rose from 824,000 cbm in 1999 to 2,485,000
cbm in 2000 then to 4,026,700 cbm in 2001, nearly 50 % of the existing
fleet. A number of these orders are speculative and driven by the
prospects of a rapid development in this energy source.
Shipping and Shipbuilding Markets in 2001
I N D E X
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