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Demand for Seaborne Shipping Is Still Here Despite Pandemic Disruption

The shipping market is undergoing a challenging 2020 in terms of freight rate market, amid a global pandemic, which has disrupted the global supply chain. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “the challenges brought forward in 2020 proved to be very different from what we could have ever imagined. Together with placing a significant strain on healthcare systems, COVID-19 also adversely impacted global businesses, trade, supply chains and economies. The maritime industry has been faced with extended regulatory constraints on international, national and regional levels in an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic. Our industry has once again dynamically adapted to change by embracing the “new normal” modus operandi that the virus has imposed on shipping”.

According to Intermodal’s SnP Broker, Mr. Theodore Ntalakos, “on the dry bulk ship supply side, the world fleet has increased by about 350 vessels y-o-y at an approximate 3.4% annual growth rate whereas growth rates in 2019 and 2018 were 2.5% and 2% respectively. The current dry bulk orderbook – excluding slippage/cancellations – stands below 6% of the world fleet. As expected, dry bulk order replenishment in 2020 has been minimal to date; the sector’s orderbook diminished y-o-y by about 200 vessels. The number of vessels aged over 25 years has increased by around 50 from last September while 20-plus year-old bulk carriers constitute about 9.5% of the dry bulk fleet”.

Mr. Ntalakos added that “the 171-tanker y-o-y vessel fleet increase (just over 3% of total fleet) was led by the MR segment and comprised of 74 MR, 40 VLCC, 18 Suezmax, 16 Aframax/LR2, 14 Handy and 9 Panamax/LR1 vessel additions. All-in-all this was a good year for tankers; the tanker orderbook is marginally smaller as compared to September 2019 – it is down by ca. 15 vessels. It is worth noting that the tanker orderbook had declined by over 100 vessels last year. The current tanker orderbook to fleet ratio is about 7% which is a 5-year low and the 20-plus year-old vessel fleet recorded an increase of around 100 ships”.

Source: Intermodal

Intermodal’s analyst added that “the tough measures employed globally to limit the spread of COVID-19 have caused an economic slowdown in both emerging and developed nations. A number of countries have thus far avoided severe economic adversities via the use of aid from sizeable fiscal and monetary policy support packages. Economic growth forecasts for all regions are dire and a worldwide GDP contraction is projected (at least) for 2020. However, the current freight market (especially for the dry segment) illustrates that there is still a growing demand for seaborne transportation. It can be argued that the pandemic is just an “additional” disruption which the shipping industry is charged with tackling. This disruption is analogous to previous shipping market suppressants such as production interruptions, economic concerns and political instability. At the end of the day, one has to be reminded that shipping is an infinite game and its perpetuation should be the key governing objective behind all of its players”, Ntalakos concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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