Buoyant is perhaps the best word to describe the overall status of the world marine market. As you flip through the pages of this year’s Annual World Yearbook, you will find a number of articles, from the status of the U.S. Shipbuilding market, to the pending boom in the offshore oil and gas markets, to the staggering climb in dayrates for the tanker and bulker markets, which clearly show the industry is on the the way up. That said, there are a number of challenges to be faced, challenges with solutions that will help to define the maritime market for decades to come.
The construction of large commercial oceangoing ships was dominated last year
by South Korea, which claimed a staggering 46 percent of all new orders, or about 18.5 million cgt, according to The Platou Report 2001. The method by which these contracts are secured, and the need for further expansion of the South Korean shipbuilding machine
, are the heart of an ongoing dispute. The European Union is poised to launch on June 30 a formal dispute via the World Trade Organization
for South Korea’s alleged used of shipbuilding subsidies. South Korea, meanwhile, contends that increases in productivity are at the heart of its yard’s order winning binge. Regardless of the outcome, look increasingly for politics and creative finance to drive the shipbuilding business for years to come, as upstarts in countries with cheap and voluminous amounts of labor (ie. China) take market share from traditional players.
More so than political squabbles, however, the issue of quality ships and equipment — Safety at Sea — has taken and will command center stage for some time to come. As the number of accidents which sullied European shores climbed through 2000, lawmakers pushed for and received a solution through the International Maritime Organization, resulting in a phase-out of single hull oil carriers in lieu of modern double hull tonnage. OPA ‘90 — which was lambasted at the time — looks visionary in retrospect, as countries increasingly demand that ships plying their waters are built and maintained to a high standard. While the prospect of fleet replacement is never a welcome bit of news to shipowners, the move toward quality will bode well for those owners that have an established practice of running safe ships, and help to squeeze out the minority few which deliver the industry ulcers.