Fewer Greek shipowners acquire larger and younger vessels

Greek shipowners are increasingly turning to bigger and younger ships, according to an annual survey. The report, compiled by consultancy and research firm Petrofin and based on the 2005 Greek Shipping Directory, Lloyd’s Fairplay and other sources, concerns all firms based in Greece and controlled by Greeks. Among its basic findings is that the pace of concentration in the industry is accelerating; the number of active shipping firms has fallen 6.23 percent to 690 from 2004, as the high values of used ships caused several small firms to sell their vessels. Of these, the number who own one or two ships has dropped from 311 last year to 288, representing 41.73 percent of the total. There is a definite trend toward larger firms, as evidenced by the number of those who own 16-24 vessels or more than 24. The 16-24 category, in particular, has quadrupled its share of the total; from 1.19 percent in 1998, it has now climbed to 5.22 percent. The Petrofin report also finds that the number of ships managed by Greek-based shipping firms, irrespective of flag, fell from 4,184 last year to 3,970 in 2005. This development is due to the gradual sale of older ships and their slower replacement with new ones. This does not mean a slowdown in new shipbuilding orders but, rather, that the surge in demand has forced many companies to wait until 2007 and 2008 to take delivery of new vessels. Another sign of the turn by Greek shipowners toward younger ships is the near doubling since 1998 of the number of firms owning vessels nine years old or less, from 30 to 56. Of the 484 ships older than 20 years, 238 are controlled by firms that own just one or two. These are mostly small tankers, bulk carriers and ferry boats, operating mainly in local markets. Only 22 of these were withdrawn from service in 2004, while 152 shipping firms have an average age of vessels of 38 years, totaling a capacity of 1,635,755 dwt. Of these, 54 manage vessels with an average age of 44 years old. The largest reduction was observed in the 15-19 year old category, with 31 vessels sold, mainly by firms that own between three and eight. High resale prices was the basic reason for the sale of such old vessels. In total, 53 vessels aged 15 or more years were withdrawn from the Greek-owned merchant fleet, indicating a satisfactory pace of renewal. Ten new vessels were added to the 10-14 year old category. The average age of vessels in the 10,000-20,000 dwt category fell slightly to 19.4 in 2005, from 19.6 in 2004 and 19.85 in 2003. However, the average age of those over 20,000 dwt remained steady at 19 years and their number fell from 2,412 in 2004 to 2,338 in 2005. The most significant qualitative change appears to have taken place in the 10,000-20,000 dwt tanker category, whose average age is now 15.7 years, against 17.1 in 2004 and 18.9 2003. This category includes 677 ships, from 758 in 2004, which, according to Petrofin, mainly shows the sale of older ships and the delivery of new tankers. A similar picture was observed in the category of bigger tankers, where the average age fell from 16.47 to 15.13 years, mainly due to the sale of single-hulled vessels. In the biggest category of Greek-owned vessels, bulk carriers, the average age, irrespective of size, remained at almost the same age of 19 years, and the size of the fleet grew despite a fall in the number of ships. In the over 20,000 dwt category, the number of operating companies rose by two to 310, while the number of ships fell to 1,351 from 1,369 in 2004. Total capacity, however, grew from 80,796,201 dwt to 81,247,174 dwt.

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