Dry Bulk Fleet Down By 200 Units in 12 Months
According to Mr. Theodore Ntalakos,, SnP Broker with Intermodal, “the dry bulk market entered 2021 on a high note supported by the broader inflection in commodity prices and increased congestion at discharging ports in China. China’s domestic thermal coal prices hit new record highs, while coal imports from all countries surged to record levels in December, lifting the annual total to its highest since 2013. In past years, Australia has been the country’s second-biggest supplier after Indonesia but the ban on Australian coal – keeping not less than 70 vessels stranded with coal outside China – has been particularly supportive for Panamax, Supramax, and Handysize bulkers, further aided by the rising coastal coal trade in China and alternative to Australia coal origins. Imports are likely to remain strong ahead of the Chinese New Year in mid-February on robust demand, while high utilisation at domestic suppliers is expected to soften high local prices just as colder than average temperatures fade and domestic coal output normalizes”.
Ntalakos added that “another factor to support Panamax and Supramax freight in 2021 is corn and soybean trade. Corn prices have hit multi-year highs on strong demand from China, which has been sourcing increasingly from the US in the context of the Phase 1 trade deal, while production prospects of major suppliers such as Ukraine and Argentina look weaker. US corn futures, a global benchmark, were trading 60% higher from a 10-year low seen in April 2020. The US, the world’s largest corn exporter, has seen its 2020-21 total commitments reaching record highs as buyers, again with China leading, rush to secure supplies amid tightening global corn stocks. What is more, Brazil soybean production for 2021 is projected at record high levels, pointing to another strong ECSA export season”.
Intermodal added that “on the supply side, the firm orderbook is currently at a new record low of 5.8% of the fleet (down from approx.10.0% during the same period last year) at 53.4 million dwt or just over 600 vessels, while dry bulk scrap prices surged during the first month of the year, following the broader trend in steel and iron ore prices. 2020 did not offer the best conditions or stability needed for dry new buildings and as such there has been little order replenishment of bulk carriers in 2020 so the orderbook is today smaller than what it was a year ago by about 200 vessels. More specifically, in the new building orderbook out of the about 440 vessels scheduled to be delivered in 2021 only about 350 may actually be delivered assuming a 20% slippage, while there are around 375 trading vessels which are 25 years old or more and thus make candidates for demolition over the next two years. As a result, we project dry bulk fleet to grow by substantially less than 1.5%-2.0% in the next couple of years”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide