The Stena Immaculate is the ninth in a series of 13 IMOIIMAX MR tankers built by China’s Guangzhou Shipbuilding International
No light yet at the end of the shipbuilding tunnel By Charlie Bartlett, Contributing editor
he global shipbuilding crisis is set to last for at least another 18 months, and some experts believe it could be longer, as shipbuilders come to terms with a continuing dearth of new orders and a tonnage overhang in most shipping sectors that shows little sign of abating. To make matters worse, shipbuilding firms face the unprecedented combination of a downturn in both commercial orders and offshore contracts. The order famine is taking its toll not only on the largest ship construction firms in Asia—accustomed to churning out vessels one after another—but also the small specialist yards in Norway, where some of the most sophisticated offshore vessels are designed and built.
World leading offshore shipyards in Norway, with virtually no new orders from their traditional customers, are turning their attention to the niche expedition cruise sector and the specialist offshore wind market. But this is only a band aid for a broken arm; there is absolutely no chance that a handful of contracts from owners in these sectors can offset the scale of the downturn. To be fair, there are two schools of thought. Some analysts are hinting that the worst may now be over, but others point out that today’s orderbook is still lumpy. According to recent figures from Clarkson Research, more than 10% of the world fleet today remains on the orderbook. In the main sectors, 14% of existing containership capacity is under construction, more than
13% of the tanker fleet, and over 8% of dry bulk capacity. Peaks and troughs in the global shipbuilding market are a fact of life. Those with long memories will remember the mid-1980s when the Japanese felt much of the pain. Yards there were scaled back, mothballed or underwent a change of use. Today, a similar round of restructuring is evident everywhere. The world’s largest builder, Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), narrowly avoided receivership earlier this year when bondholders agreed to a radical debt restructuring program led by the South Korea Government. Bondholders signed off on a debt-forequity swap and a suspension of remaining June 2017 Yearbook // Marine Log 25