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Record orderbook 'could slip 20%'

Record orderbook 'could slip 20%'

London: Almost a third of the record volume of tonnage due for delivery over the next couple of years will come from new shipyards where slippage due to start-up problems is quite possible. According to Clarkson, deliveries will jump by 50% in 2009, to more than 157m dwt, but unlike the decade so far, 30% of these new ships are being built at new yards, many of them in Asia.

Keeping an exact track of newbuilding statistics is fraught with difficult, Clarkson admits. Its current records indicate that there are 9,680 ships totalling 591.6m dwt on order, equivalent to 53% of the fleet. But many of the orders have been placed at small to medium-sized yards where information on contracts and any subsequent changes is hard to come by. It is not in yards' interest to report slippage, for example, but delivery delays are likely with current volumes of work in hand.

Clarkson points out that its annual August forecasts of deliveries for the following year underestimated actual deliveries by 10-20% in the years between 2000 and 2005. However, since then the gap has narrowed, to just 3% in 2007. And with many ships now under construction at new shipbuilding facilities where more slippage is likely, the analysts' predictions may swing the other way. "We have never had so much capacity commissioned in such a short time," Clarkson declares. "So maybe predictions of 20% slippage will turn out to be right."  [22/09/08]