Clarksons Forecasts 40M CGT Output Amid Record Car Carrier Year


  • Clarksons Shipbroking anticipates a significant global expansion in the maritime sector, primarily driven by increased shipbuilding activities.
  • The surge in worldwide shipbuilding is largely attributed to the growing output in South Korea.
  • The global shipyard output witnessed a 10% year-on-year rise, reaching 35 million CGT in 2023.
  • China emerged as a dominant force, contributing 50% of the total CGT output in 2023, surpassing South Korea (26%) and Japan (14%).
  • Historical data reveals shifting patterns, with the UK holding over 50% output share in the early 20th century.

Global Shipbuilding Landscape

As the maritime sector navigates towards substantial expansion, Clarksons Shipbroking anticipates a significant upswing in worldwide shipbuilding endeavors, predominantly propelled by the burgeoning output in South Korea. Clarksons’ projections envision a remarkable increase to 40 million compensated gross tonnage (CGT) output in the years 2024 and 2025.

The global shipyard output experienced a 10% year-on-year rise, reaching 35 million CGT in 2023. China emerged as a powerhouse in the shipbuilding arena, contributing 50% of the total output by CGT for the first time, eclipsing South Korea at 26% and Japan at 14%.

The achievement was underpinned by China’s lead market positions in bulkers (62% output compared to Japan’s 33%), tankers (41% versus South Korea’s 39%), and the latest addition, containerships (61% against South Korea’s 29%).

South Korea’s Sustained Leadership

However, South Korea maintained dominance in LNG, commanding an impressive 83% compared to China’s 17%. The historical context reveals that South Korea’s output share peaked at approximately 35% in 2016, while Japan, in the 1970s and 1980s, occasionally hovered around the 50% mark. Interestingly, the United Kingdom consistently held an output share of over 50% between 1900-50, underscoring the dynamic shifts in global shipbuilding over the decades.

Chinese yards also dominated ordering, with 60% of orders by CGT, while the global order book backlog only increased marginally across 2023 (by 4% in CGT) to remain at historically low levels (12% of fleet capacity).

Forward yard cover ended the year at a strong 3.5 years with yard pricing increased by 10% across the year. Exchange rates and steel costs were helpful to Asian yards at times but labor cost pressures remained challenging.

Ship Repair Landscape

Clarksons’ data for ship repair yards showed China as the market leader followed by Turkey and Singapore, with a modest uptick in scrubber retrofits and increasing energy-saving technology (EST) retrofits.

According to Clarksons, there was generally a good flow of orders in 2023, down in CGT and value, up in DWT and GT, with an increase in tanker orders, +222% by dwt, albeit from a low base, and 12% increase by dwt for bulkers. Although containership orders fell by 43% in TEU, this still represents historically high volumes, supported by liner companies continuing to invest in green fleet renewal programs, with 83% of capacity ordered being alternatively fuelled.

2023 was a record year for car carrier orders, with 80 orders of $8.1bn, 79% alternative fuelled, rising to 98% including “ready” orders. There were also good order volumes for gas with 68 orders for very large gas carriers (VLGCs) and 66 LNG carriers.

Innovative Trends In Small Ship Markets

There were also some good volumes with innovative alternative fuel/ESTs in the smaller ship market, such as in the short sea /MPP, offshore wind, and ferry sectors. With the cruise market recovering, some big ship project discussions started as well.

Reflecting the uptick in tanker orders, Greek investors committed 60% more newbuild investment (and their highest in dwt since 2013) and, for the first time since 2018, European owners committed more investment than Asian.

Uncertainty around fuel choice and “grumbles” around pricing levels remains, as ship prices reached their highest level since the 2008 peak.

But with good cashflow across shipping, helped by further “disruption upside, and underlying fleet renewal requirements building amid aging fleets and environmental legislation impetus Clarksons expects, for the moment, a good flow of new orders again in 2024 for shipbuilding and marine equipment.

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Source: Offshore Energy