Newbuild Orders Remains Achilles Heel for Dry Bulk Sector

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Many analysts, public and private equity investors and shipowners seem to believe the dry bulk order book has declined materially over the past eight and one-half months and that the dry bulk market is positioned to benefit from a significant increase in demand.

The total dry bulk fleet has increased approximately 4% (net) this year and since February 2013, the total dry bulk order book has been remarkably stable, with approximately 110 million deadweight of expected deliveries due between 2013 and 2017 and beyond.

By the end of 2013, approximately 55% of the dry bulk fleet is projected to be less than 5 years old, approximately 71% of the dry bulk fleet is less than 10 years old, and only 4.5% of the dry bulk fleet is projected to be 25+ years old. Currently the dry bulk order book represents approximately 15.8% of the global fleet. As such, deliveries will exceed scrappings and the fleet will continue to grow, even without additional ordering by shipowners and private equity investors.

The fleet is not disappearing for some time to come. In fact, with the orderbook remaining stable, it is unlikely the dry bulk market will be balanced unless demand can be sustained and even increased.

  • Since December 2012, the Capesize dry bulk fleet has increased approximately 4% (net) and since February 2013 the Capesize orderbook has increased 9.6%, with approximately 44 million of expected deliveries due between 2013 and 2017 and beyond.
  • Since December 2012, the Panamax dry bulk fleet has increased approximately 1% (net) and since February 2013 the Panamax orderbook has decreased 19.0%, with approximately 30 million of expected deliveries due between 2013 and 2017 and beyond.
  • Since December 2012, the Handymax dry bulk fleet has increased approximately 11% (net) and since February 2013 the Handymax orderbook has increased 23.1%, with approximately 24 million of expected deliveries due between 2013 and 2017 and beyond.
  • Since December 2012, the Handysize dry bulk fleet has decreased approximately (1)% (net) and since February 2013 the Handysize orderbook has increased 3.4%, with approximately 13 million of expected deliveries due between 2013 and 2017 and beyond.

The dry bulk shipping market will remain challenging for years to come however, aspects of the dry bulk market, particularly the Panamax grain market and the Handysize shipping sectors may provide analysts, public and private equity investors, debt financiers and shipowners with interesting investment opportunities in a difficult marketplace.

The order book remains the Achilles Heel for the dry bulk market.