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Shipbuilders facing tougher year in 2014: Martin Stopford

Shipbuilders facing tougher year in 2014: Martin Stopford
Leading shipping analyst Martin Stopford says that next year will be tougher for shipbuilders as new deliveries and capacity continue to outstrip orders. While this year has seen a pick-up in newbuilding orders it is far removed from the boom of a few years ago where yards could pick and choose what type of ships they wanted to build.

“In the crisis it’s much harder for the shipyards as they cannot chose their prodcuts so easily and they have to do much more estimating and negotiation to win orders,” Stopford, president of Clarksons Research Services, told the Senior Maritime Forum at Marintec China 2013 this week.

The types of vessels ordered have been varying substantially from year to year. In value terms in 2012 offshore accounted for 58% of the total orderbook, bulker carriers only 12% and containerships just 5%. By contrast so far 2013 while offshore has remained strong it has fallen to 32% of the new orders, bulker carriers have recovered to 19% and containerships leapt up to 19%.

“In the recession you have to be willing to build what the owners are willing to order and that varies,” Stopford noted. “Shipyards are going to have to become much more flexible at adapting their product range.”

Chinese yards remain dominant in bulk carriers but he also noted they are the leader in producing specialised vessels due to the willingness to adapt.

The issue of there being too many yards chasing too few orders remains despite the closure of a substantial number of mainly small to medium sized yards since 2009.

Since 2009 according to Clarksons data 506 shipyards have closed down, which Stopford described as the “under achievers” of shipyards. “The strong are getting stronger and the weak are getting weaker.”

He said that although the amount of orders has fallen very rapidly since 2009 yard capacity in cgt has fallen by just 22%. “We still have more shipyards competing for business than there are orders to go around.”