Beijing reports tenfold rise in new vessel orders
Chinese shipbuilders saw a tenfold surge in newbuilding orders following a rebound in ordering activity in the first quarter and Chinese yards now command almost 50% of the global shipbuilding market, according to China"s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, writes Hui Ching-hoo in Hong Kong.
The ministry said that in tonnage terms the volume of orders jumped 10.5 times to 8.3m dwt between January and March, compared with just 720,000 dwt in the same period last year. This rise translated into a total global market share of 47.8% in the first quarter.
Around 80% of new vessels ordered at the China"s shipyards were bulk carriers. Containership orders remained tepid as a result of the sluggish recovery in international trade.
New bulker deals included an order from Greece"s GrandUnion for two 80,000 dwt post-panamax vessels at Cosco Dalian Shipyard on February 26.
Citics Securities shipping analyst Gao Xiaochun said that although the volume of new orders showed a massive increase in the first quarter, the spike did not genuinely reflect the market situation because the global financial crisis and order cancellations resulted a record low in the number of new orders at China"s shipyards in the early part of 2009.
A total of 13 vessels, comprising 900,000 dwt, were axed at the country"s shipyards in the first quarter in 2009, according to China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry.
China State Shipbuilding Corp research centre analyst Bao Zhangjin told Lloyd"s List that it was difficult to quantify whether the number of cancelled orders had decreased this year because most local shipyards were unwilling to disclose the figures.
Mr Gao expected a slight improvement in prospects for the shipbuilding industry this year and estimated that the total volume of new orders could top 50m dwt for the whole of 2010 compared with 40m dwt in 2009.
The ministry added that China"s shipyard posted a 128% rise in completion volumes to 14.6m dwt compared with 6.4m dwt in the 2009, which reflected the ordering frenzy by domestic and international shipbuilders over the previous several years.
The volume of completed vessels accounted for 41.4% of the worldwide market. Of the total, 11.5m dwt or 79% comprised vessels for export to foreign owners.
Ministry officials said Chinese shipyards had an order backlog of 184.1m dwt at the end of March, 2.2% lower than the 188.2m dwt recorded at the end of March 2009. This constituted 37.3% of the total orderbook for shipyards worldwide.