Drewry: Container Carriers Should Delay Newbuild Deliveries

Some 100,000 TEU of new container ships scheduled for delivery in 2014 is estimated to have slipped into 2015. While this helped to narrow the gap between supply-demand last year it will only add to the supply pressure this year, according to Drewry Maritime Research.

Drewry believes that further delays to newbuild deliveries are required to prevent the gap between supply and demand widening in 2015. The industry’s appetite for new ULCVs is making it much harder for carriers to match supply with demand, and is likely to extend how long carriers will have to wait for harmony.

The supply and demand grew broadly in parallel in the first-half of the latest decade but diverged quite dramatically following an ordering frenzy in 2007-08, later compounded by the global financial crisis that derailed demand.

Drewry’s latest Container Forecaster report revealed that 2014 was another year of excess supply growth. By end 2014, the total global cellular fleet had nominal capacity of 18.1 million TEU, up 6.0% on 2013, while world container traffic lagged behind at 5.2%.

The gap would have been wider, but for an estimated 100,000 TEU worth of scheduled newbuild capacity that did not arrive on time. Without this so-called ”slippage” the global fleet would have grown by a further 0.6 points to 6.6% in 2014.

Slippage is not uncommon as shipowners and yards re-negotiate delivery terms, and the sum for 2014 was lower than seen in recent years. However, that tonnage still has to be delivered at some point and delays merely push the problem down the road. According to Drewry, this year the problem is particularly acute as the overhang in 2014 deliveries will be in addition to the huge 1.85 million TEU already due to be added to the fleet.

Scrapping of old ships along with further slippage of newbuilds into 2016 will lower the net addition to the fleet to around 1.35m TEU, but this would still represent the largest spike in annual capacity since 2007. Moreover, Drewry still sees the global fleet growth exceeding demand at 7.2% versus 5.3%.

Image: DSME