Ocean carriers are facing a surplus of unwanted ships of between 8,000 and 10,000 20-foot-equivalent units following a surge in orders, according to Drewry Maritime Research.
Fifty-five vessels averaging 8,600 TEUs will already have been delivered by the end of 2013, increasing the sector’s capacity by a “remarkable” 18 percent and running well ahead of global cargo growth, the London-based shipping consultancy said.
A further 40 ships are due for delivery in 2015, increasing total capacity by 11.6 percent, followed by an additional 45 vessels in 2015 that will expand the fleet year-on-year by another 11.6 percent.
The spate of orders suggests “that either overcapacity is brewing ahead or unusual service developments are in the pipeline,” Drewry said.
Meanwhile, around 20 ships in this size segment are due to become surplus to requirements once Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM’s Asia-North Europe services are merged in the launch of their P3 Network in the second half of 2014.
Moreover, another 44 ships averaging 14,638 TEUs are due for delivery in 2015, which will probably lead to the same number of 8,000 to 10,000-TEU vessels being displaced.
The P3 carriers will likely need at least 30 of these units for the alliance’s five transatlantic services and rival lines, unable to compete with their economies of scale, probably will need to follow suit, Drewry predicts.
But the supply of 8,000 to 10,000-TEU ships still looks set to exceed demand growth and there is no immediate home for them outside the east/west trades.
The opening of the Panama Canal’s expanded locks at the end of 2015 will open up new possibilities but it's highly unlikely that the main Asia/ East Coast North America services will be upgraded from the current 5,000 TEUs restriction.
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