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Tanker newbuild contracts increase, total orderbook shrinks

Euronav Euronav vessels under construction
Contracting of tanker newbuildings has picked up in the first two months of 2023 although the combined orderbook still continues to decline, according to an SSY report.

In its monthly shipping review brokers SSY said that 34 product and crude tanker newbuildings over 10,000 dwt, with a combined deadweight of 2m dwt, were contracted in January and February this year.

Adding a further four Suemaxes ordered in the first week of March pushing the total tonnage figure to 2.8m dwt, new orders equate to 40% of all tanker tonnage contracted in 2022 as whole when 108 vessels totalling 6.8m dwt were ordered.

The orders at the start of this year continue a trend seen in Q4 2022 although numbers remain far below those seen in 2021.

Ordering at in recent months has been dominated by product tankers accounting for 28 of the 38 vessels ordered, with MR tankers forming the bulk of contracting with 22 newbuilds.

Contracting for crude tankers is well below historical averages – in the period 2012 – 2022 crude tankers formed roughly two-thirds of orders per quarter according to SSY.

This year has seen just 10 crude tankers ordered comprising two Aframaxes and eight Suezmaxes. The only VLCC orders since June 2021 were two contracted in December 2022.

SSY noted tanker ordering had been restrained by higher asset prices, yards preferring higher value gas carriers and containerships orders which have filled up available slots, and uncertainty over sustainable fuels to be used in the future.

The earliest delivery slots for large tankers were noted as first half 2026 for suezmaxes and second half of 2026.

The overall orderbook for tankers continues to decrease as deliveries out-weigh new orders. “Although contracting has picked up, the reduced levels of ordering over recent years has seen the combined tanker orderbook decline steadily and now sits at 3.7% as a percentage of the fleet as of the end of February, down from 4.2% at the start of the year and 7.8% at the start of 2021,” SSY said.