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Bulk Carrier Construction

Trends positive for Handy size ships The world inventory of dry bulk carriers consists of 4,300 ships which are more than 20,000 dwt. Handysize bulk carriers between 20,000 and 37,000 dwt account for 44 percent of the inventory. Handymax bulk carriers between 37,000 and 55,000 dwt account for another 24 percent of the total. The balance is comprised of Panamax bulk carriers between 55,000 and 80,000 dwt, Capesize ships over 80,000 dwt and combination carriers that move between the liquid and bulk trades.

About 365 bulk carriers are now on order worldwide. The cumulative value of the construction contracts totals $10.8 billion, with more than 50 percent of this total represented by Panamax and larger ships. Here's how the current backlog breaks down.

Major Players Asian shipyards are clearly the dominant players in dry bulk carrier construction. Japanese shipyards are the major builders of bulk carriers to Panamax size, accounting for 38 percent of bulk carriers between 20,000 and 80,000 dwt on order.

Among Japanese yards building bulk carriers are Tsuneishi, Oshima, Hitachi and Sumitomo. Korean yards, however, clearly dominate the market for large bulkers, with Daewoo, Hyundai, Hall and Samsung accounting for 39 of the 79 Capesize bulk carriers now on order.

NKK in Japan is also a major player in construction of Capesize bulkers. Several shipyards in China and eastern Europe have established a significant presence in Handysize and Handymax ships, and China Shipbuilding in Taiwan has a relatively strong presence in Capesize bulkers. Outlook For New Construction Over the past two years, there has been a significant rise in demand for bulk carriers. The Baltic freight index, which tracks the trend in freight rates, almost doubled between early 1994 and mid-1995.

While the index is now 30 percent off its peak, it is still significantly higher than the level that prevailed in early 1994. However, , although long term fundamentals remain very strong, there is concern that the recent spurt of shipbuilding orders could produce a near term surplus in certain sectors of the market, particularly the Capesize sector.

In IMA's recent Shipbuilding Industry Outlook, the forecast is that bulk carrier construction will run at the rate of 205 to 265 ships annually over the next four years, This will be a significantly higher figure than that of the preceding three years.

Particular growth will take place in construction of Handysize bulk carriers, as 25 to 30 percent of the existing inventory of these ships is expected to be scrapped over the next five years. Not all sectors, however, will see increased construction. IMA projects a significant downturn in orders for Capesize bulk carriers as a result of the recent overbuilding in this sector.




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