Average freight rates for a twenty-foot container from Shanghai to Europe rose more than fourfold – from $1,204 to $6,119 – while charter rates for a 4,400 teu gearless Panamax shot up from $14,012 to $67,123, the analysts noted.
Fleet capacity remained moderate at 4.5%, but market metrics proved the catalyst in a spate of new contracting. A record 548 ships of 4.2m teu were ordered during the year, taking the contracted total to 5.7m teu, 23% of fleet capacity and more than double the end-2020 figure of 11%.
New ship prices rose sharply, up by about 30% across the board but more for larger ships. A 15,500 teu gearless neo-panamax, for example, cost around $106m at the beginning of the year but by the year-end, its price had risen to $155m, Clarkson said.
Despite the buoyant market, ship speeds are down on 2008 levels by about 24% and 33% of fleet capacity is now ‘eco-modern’. Almost a quarter of ships on order will operate on alternative fuels and about 700 container vessels are now equipped with at least one energy-saving technology.
“Material supply pressure looks likely in 2023,” the analysts predicted, “but after an extraordinary 2021, with expectations of prolonged disruption and a positive start, all eyes are on whether 2022 will be a case of repeat viewing.”
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