Shipping Fleet Grows by 10.26% in Capacity and by 6.5% in Numbers During 2016

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With growth of 6.5% in vessel numbers and 10.26% in DWT terms the Hellenic shipping industry continued to power forward during 2016.  This is an impressive feat, given that this year’s market conditions were more than challenging in most segments, with dry bulk and container sectors suffering dearly. 

Petrofin Research said that the overall number of Greek vessels has gone up to 5,230 from 4,909.  

A summary of the fleet’s composition can be seen below:

  • Tonnage has again climbed up by 33,679,552 tons DWT to 361,934,047, an increase of 10.26% compared to last year’s increase of 7.52%.
  • Age for all vessels keeps falling and now stands at 12.19, compared to 12.73 in 2015, 13.26 in 2014, 14.05 in 2013 and 14.7 in 2012.
  • Using a 20,000 DWT cut-off, the average age of the Greek fleet has fallen to 8.39, from 8.71 in 2015, 9.14 years in 2014 and 9.83 in 2013.
  • The dry bulk fleet (vessels over 20,000 tons DWT) has gained 111 more vessels, its age is down to 8.13 years, its tonnage is up by 7.2m tons DWT and is run by the same number of companies.
  • The large Container fleet (vessels over 20,000 tons DWT) has also become marginally younger, 9.34 years old from 9.38 years in 2015, despite the fact that this sector traditionally shows a slow rate of renewal.  This year, it has grown substantially and has gained a further 7.7m tons DWT to 25.3m tons DWT and the number of vessels is up from 274 in 2015 to 381 in 2016.  The companies that run these vessels are up by 1 to 32.
  • The large Tanker fleet (vessels over 20,000 tons DWT) shows a marked increase in tonnage by 14.6m tons DWT to 131.6m tons DWT, compared to last year’s small increase of only 220,751 tons DWT.  The number of vessels is also significantly up by 43 to 851. This sector’s companies are down by 3 and age wise there was a marginal drop to 9.35 years average from 9.49 years last year.
  • The most important expansion is shown by the LPG sector.  The fleet has almost doubled and its age has dropped from 11.5 to 4.19.  This amazing development becomes even more marked when we observe the over 20,000 tons DWT LPG statistics: Vessels up from 26 to 66, tonnage up by 150% and age down from 13.69 years of age to 4.33.
  • The LNG fleet is showing an internal reshuffle, where the same number of vessels are now bigger by 12.5%.
  • The Greek fleet continues to expand in size but an ever more consolidated manner, as the number of Greek companies are reducing.

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According to Petrofin Research’s data, the number of Greek based/owned companies continues to decline.  The 1.5% decrease represents 10 companies less, bringing their number down to 638.

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In a nutshell, the main developments over the course of the past 12 months have been the following:

  • 25+ vessel fleets constitute now well over half of the Greek total in DWT terms (65.38%), and the number of companies that run them has grown to 46 compared to 41 in 2015, 40 in 2014 and 35 in 2013.
  • The large are getting larger and younger.  The top category of 25+ vessel fleets aged 0-9 years keeps expanding significantly from 154,332,959 tons DWT in 2015 to 188,404,805 tons DWT in 2016.  The companies that run them are now 30 up from 24 in 2015, 22 in 2014 and to 14 in 2013.
  • Over 1m ton owners constitute 77.47% up from 76.7% of the total fleet in 2015, 74% in 2014 and 71.33% in 2013.  Their number has remained, however, at 68.
  • Overage fleets of 20 years+ are slightly up at 235, something attributed to the sharp decline in 3-4 vessel companies.  This reflects the effects of the market pressures on the smaller owners.
  • Interestingly, 16-24 vessel fleets are down to 26 companies from 30 and their tonnage is down from 41.4m tons DWT to 29.5m tons DWT.  This reduction has favoured the higher and lower fleet size segments.
  • The very young fleets (0-9 years of age) continue to rise.  They hold 73.56% of the whole of Greek fleet DWT compared to 73.47% in 2015.  This shows the commitment of Greek owners towards younger vessels.
  • Smaller companies (with 1-2 vessel fleets) have gone up in a surprise move, albeit slightly.  However, as the 3-4 vessel companies have gone down significantly from 154 to 129, it may be assumed that vessels were lost in these difficult times and some of the 3-4 vessel companies have downsized.
  • Over the last 19 years of Petrofin Research, the overall number of Greek companies has declined by over 31%.
  • The overall age of the fleet keeps falling and it now stands at 12.19 years.
  • Greek shipping is a good example of economies of scale at work and clearly the trend towards consolidation and concentration is expected to continue.

“The Greek LNG fleet has remained pretty static over the period.  However, the same cannot be said for the LPG fleet, which has become the star performer across all sectors with the number of companies operating fleets of over 20,000 DWT growing from 6 to 13, the total fleet DWT has nearly tripled from 1.078m DWT to 2.950m DWT over the last 4 years.  The number of vessels has risen from 23 to 66 and even more remarkably the average age of the LPG fleet has fallen from 13.69 to 4.33 years.  

Overall, Greek owners have continued to commit huge sums to grow and modernize their fleets.  Thus, far and since the shipping industry’s continuous crisis since 2008, the massive investment has not paid off, as most sectors remain fundamentally weak.  However, it is too early to opine as to the overall future investment performance of Greek shipping and whether Greek owners shall be able to maintain the current growth momentum.  Nevertheless, their track record has shown that Greek owners timed purchases and disposals well and remain true intuitive entrepreneurs”, Mr. Petropoulos concluded.

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Source: Petrofin Research

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