Shipowners thrive despite crisis

Despite the ongoing crisis in Greece, Greek shipowners have increased their share of the global commercial fleet this year to 16.17 percent – which translates into 202,388,152 deadweight tons (dwt) – from 15.96 percent last year, according to the annual report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The other shipowning nations in the world?s top five are the Japanese (15.76 percent), the Germans (9.17 percent), the Chinese (8.63 percent) and the South Koreans (3.79 percent).

For the Greeks to strengthen their position at the top of the global chart this year, they had to spend some $11 billion on ordering 156 new vessels to shipyards in China, South Korea and elsewhere. These ships, according to data from Golden Destiny shipbrokers, have a total shipping capacity of 12.79 million dwt.

Nevertheless, shipbroking sources in Piraeus comment that Greek shipowners? investment in new vessels this year is considerably lower than that of 2010, when 239 ships were ordered with a total capacity of 25.2 million dwt.

?The decline in orders is due to the fact that there is already an oversupply in capacity, mainly in dry-bulk carriers and tankers,? the same sources explained.

The drop in the number of new orders compared to last year is also attributed to the shift in Greek shipowners? interest to more specialized and expensive vessels such as container ships, liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers and drillships.

While in 2010 Greek shippers made no more than just five orders for LNG carriers, this year such orders soared to 22. Likewise, container ship orders climbed from 15 last year to 46 this year to date. In contrast, tanker orders dropped from 65 in 2010 to 24 this year and dry-bulk carrier orders shrank from 152 to 59.

UNCTAD?s report suggested that last year there was a new record in new ship deliveries, climbing 28 percent from 2009, resulting in an 8.6 percent expansion of the global fleet, or 120 million dwt. New deliveries added up to 150 million dwt while the vessels scrapped had a total capacity of 30 million dwt.

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