A diverse range of sectors yielded high returns, but tanker earnings fell 71% year on year, with VLCCs particularly hard hit. The weak performance has continued in the early days of 2022, with little sign of an uptick so far.
Clarkson noted that dry bulk rates rose by 185% to their highest level for more than a decade, with smaller segments yielding good returns from growth in minor bulks and grains. Supramax units logged a rise of 210%, the shipbroker said, while other sectors on a bull run included LNG tankers, car carriers, and ro-ro. Even the offshore market exceeded expectations and the outlook in this sector is “cautiously optimistic”.
Supply chain disruption was notably evident in the container, dry bulk and car carrier markets, Clarkson said, and is likely to take some time to unwind. However, seaborne trade continued the recovery that started in late 2020, with a full-year estimate for 2021 of 12bn tonnes, and a likely increase to 12.4bn tonnes this year.
Meanwhile, asset values rose, newbuilding prices climbed, and demolition rates spiked. New ship contracts centred on containers and LNG tankers as the overall orderbook rose to 9.4% of the fleet in deadweight terms.
More than a third of new ship contracts, measured in gross tonnage, were for ships that will use alternative fuels, and the focus on ‘Green & Tech’ in post-Covid planning intensified, Clarkson said, with decarbonisation ‘front and centre’ of boardroom discussions.
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