[Op-Ed] Maritime Market Trends for 2014

By MarEx 2014-05-13 14:48:00

Greek shipowners have returned to the top of the global shipping economy by controlling a gross tonnage of 164 million tons, overtaking the Japanese at 159.4 million tons. According to Clarksons, this global lead suggests that Greeks operate much bigger ships because they own only 4,984 vessels against 8,537 for the Japanese and 6,427 for the Chinese.

The Japanese invested huge funds during the past decade, which resulted in significant losses during the financial crisis and shipping downturn, while Greeks proved to be more conservative. In addition, Greeks are very active in vessel acquisitions as they have spent more than $6.8 billion during Q1 2014. Newbuilding orders from Greek shipowners saw a 126 percent increase over Q1 2013 with invested capital of more than $3.5 billion, representing a 12 percent share of total newbuilding activity – up from nine percent in Q1 2013. Investments in the secondhand market by Greek shipowners totaled more than $3.3 billion for 131 vessels, up from just under $1 billion in Q1 2013.

Globally, shipowners continue to be more aggressive in the newbuilding market than the secondhand market, which saw 37 percent fewer orders. During Q1 2014, invested capital for secondhand purchases was estimated at more than $10.5 billion for the acquisition of 499 vessels. Bulkers represented a 56 percent share. Invested capital for newbuildings exceeded $25 billion for 792 vessels. Bulkers and tankers grabbed the lion's share with 73 percent of total activity. The delivery of Höegh LNG’s PGN FSRU Lampung brought the number of LNG carriers in the current fleet to the 400 level.

Chinese yards lead in drybulk newbuildings with a 74 percent share while Korea leads in tankers with a 45 percent share. Japanese yards have significantly increased their market share in both the bulker segment (Handysize and Ultramax vessels) and the tanker segment (Handysize vessels). – MarEx  

John Nikolaou is based in Athens. He is a Financial Analyst with Coca Cola HBC and follows the maritime industry closely.