Ocean carriers face a growing capacity glut in 2012, especially on the key Asia-Europe trade lane, as ship deliveries accelerate from last year while cargo demand weakens over the coming 12 months, Alphaliner forecast.
The global container ship fleet is set to grow 8.3 percent, or 1.28 million 20-foot equivalent units, this year. The growth will outpace the 7.9 percent expansion in 2011, when shipyards delivered 127 vessels of 1.23 million TEUs, the container market analyst said.
The growth in demand, by contrast, is forecast to slow to 6.5 percent in 2012 from an estimated 7.7 percent in 2011.
Some 253 container ships of 1.47 million TEUs are due for delivery in 2012, but this likely will drop to around 228 vessels of 1.39 million TEUs after allowing for delivery slippage. A further 120,000 TEUs of capacity is expected to be scrapped, according to Alphaliner.
Almost half of the ships slated for delivery in 2012 are above 10,000 TEUs, most of which are earmarked for deployment on Asia-Europe routes.
“The order book bias toward large ships will exacerbate the oversupply afflicting the main East-West trades,” Alphaliner said.
All of the top 20 ocean carriers, with the exception of Chile’s CSAV and Zim of Israel, are expected to take delivery of new container vessels in 2012. CCAV has chartered three ships due for delivery this year to Maersk.
Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping will be the fastest growing carrier in 2012, with 21 ships of nearly 250,000 TEUs of capacity total set to join its fleet, followed by Maersk, which is also taking delivery of 21 ships of 133,000 total TEUs capacity. Maersk expanded its capacity at twice the pace of the overall container shipping industry in 2011.
Despite the looming overcapacity, carriers ordered 239 ships of 1.77 million TEUs worth $19.5 billion total in 2011, according to Alphaliner. The order book reached 620 ships of 4.3 million TEUs at the end of 2011, representing 28 percent of the current fleet of 15.4 million TEUs.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.