The containership orderbook, measured as a percentage of the existing fleet, has fallen to its lowest level since 1999, and is expected to slide further in the near term, according to Alphaliner.
The current orderbook-to-fleet ratio plunged to 17.1% from the peak of 64% recorded at the end of 2007, when the booming container shipping market triggered an ordering binge.
In the first seven months of 2016, only 202,000 TEU of new containership capacity were ordered, compared to the 2.3 million TEU ordered during the whole of 2015.
The decline was in part attributed to the IMO NOx Tier III requirements, which apply to all vessels with a keel-laying date on or after 1 January 2016. This deadline has promted many owners to rush and place orders last year, just before the new regulations took effect.
The orderbook ratio has been in steady decline since 2008, although the placement of orders for 18,000+ TEU ships by Danish shipping giant Maersk sparked off several minor waves of competing orders by rival carriers, Alphaliner said.
While low in relation to the overall container fleet, the ratio is largely imbalanced, depending on vessel category.
It reaches 56% for ships over 10,000 TEU, against only 4.5% for ships below that size.
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