Demand strong for Panamax vessels
The demand for Panamax newbuildings remains strong despite a turbulent second quarter which reduced rates by US$3 per deadweight tonne (dwt) on the US Gulf-Japan grain run, according to a research report.
London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants said there were a further 29 shipbuilding contracts placed between April and June, taking orders during the first six months to 3.5 million dwt.
At this rate, newbuildings could exceed six million dwt this year for the third year in a row, it said. By comparison, there were orders for just 14 Capesize vessels between April and June.
The Drewry survey said 10 million dwt, 16 per cent of the existing Panamax fleet, was under construction up to the end of June, and owners continued to see the long-term investment potential of such vessels.
'This particular fleet is likely to benefit from the anticipated surge in short-haul steam-coal cargoes to the Asia-Pacific Rim while keeping its share of the important trade in grain,' it said.
However, there was increasing speculation that Indonesian steam-coal exports, which have surged in the 1990s, were peaking.
Between 1991 and 1995, coal exports rose by an average of six million tonnes a year. Last year exports increased by less than 400,000 tonnes, the report said.