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China to play bigger role in multipurpose vessels sector

China to play bigger role in multipurpose vessels sector
China is likely to play an increasingly major role in the global multipurpose vessels (MPPs) sector on the back of more cargo exports and higher orderbook for those high specification ships, according to shipping analyst Clarksons.

With China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ and ‘High-Speed Rail Diplomacy’ strategies, Chinese exports of project cargoes are expected to increase, spurring an expansion of the country’s MPP fleet.

“The Chinese-owned fleet of MPPs has increased in recent years, with Chinese owners now accounting for a significant proportion of global investment into a sector traditionally dominated by Europeans,” said Effie Lei from Clarksons.

China is currently the world’s second largest MPP owner nation, after Germany, with a fleet of 247 ships of 4.1m dwt at the start of June 2015, equal to 14% of global MPP fleet capacity. Cosco Shipping took the largest market share with 51 MPPs of a combined 1.3m dwt.

“The expansion in China’s MPP fleet has been driven by growth in the 20,000+ dwt sector. 103 vessels of 2.8m dwt in this size range are now owned by Chinese companies, accounting for 70% of China’s MPP fleet capacity, up from 40% in 2007,” Lei said.

She added that the upsizing trend has been reinforced by the contraction of the sub-20,000 dwt fleet, by 20% in tonnage terms between start 2007 and end-May 2015.

“Newbuilding investment has been focussed in the larger sizes, supported by China’s rising exports of project cargoes, typically large and heavy items for use in the mining, petrochemical and infrastructure sectors, for example,” she said.

At the start of June this year, China had the largest volume of MPP tonnage on order of any owner nation, with an orderbook of 33 vessels of 800,000 dwt. This represents 19% of the Chinese fleet in tonnage terms, compared to 7% for the global MPP orderbook. Almost 90% of capacity on order to Chinese owners is for 20,000+ dwt units, which should lead to further upsizing in China’s MPP fleet.