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Tankers: Enough Scrap Candidates in the Market as Average Tanker Demolition Age is 22 Years Old Says Shipbroker

Oversupply of tonnage could soon be eradicated in the wet markets, if the current pace of demolition activity is maintained. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal noted that “on the crude sector, a very anemic supply growth in 2014 helped the market enjoy a very good year in 2015 as the demand for crude carriers surpassed the fleet growth. Consequentially, the improved market led to renewed appetite for new buildings and the orders peaked in 2015”.

According to Intermodal’s SnP Broker, Mr. Theodoros Ntalakos, “the ships ordered then were for delivery in 2016-2018, so, as demolition bottomed in 2015 and 2016, during those years the fleet grew at levels of five to six percent. Such increased tanker supply has not been matched by the respective demand, so the earnings have remained suppressed. Nevertheless, demolition – supported also by upcoming regulations, is peaking to unprecedented levels at least since 2012 leading to marginal fleet growth despite deliveries. Furthermore, and whilst the average age of the tankers being sold for scrap is around 19years old and only one percent of the crude fleet is over 20years old, eleven percent of the current fleet will be over 20 years old by 2020 meaning there are still good grounds for demolition to continue”.

Ntalakos added that “the product market looks even more promising. The current orderbook is marginally at ten percent of the fleet and the average age of ships being scrapped is around 22 years. Furthermore, six percent of the product tanker fleet is still over 20 years old and by 2020 ten percent of the fleet will be over 20 years old. The fleet grew sharply in 2013 and 2015 but for the last three years the growth is subdued. In a very plausible scenario for 2018, demand growth is expected to surpass supply growth for the first time since 2015”.

Meanwhile, “what is interesting is that the correlation between earnings and contracting turned negative in 2017. Few but wise and counter-cyclical investors find the stomach to order tanker new buildings when the market is deteriorating. One reason is the attractive prices in all tanker sub-segments; VLCCs at or below $80m, Aframax tankers hovering just over 40 million and MR Tankers in the very low 30s were well below their historical average making them very attractive. The lack of orders during 2016 led the shipbuilders to reduce their pricing and the poor market helped the buyers squeeze them further to the lowest possible contract prices. Pricing, combined with compliance to the upcoming regulations made the new buildings more attractive solutions for a shipowner who wanted to renew or expand his fleet”, said Intermodal’s analyst.

He concluded his analysis by noting that “is a shipowner prepared to pay more for a tanker today than six months ago? Definitely NO for an older vessel and marginally YES for a modern ship. Should one be worried about today’s tanker orderbook? Yes one should, but one should also keep the fact that the tonnage that can possibly exit the market the next few years is very close to today’s orderbook”.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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