Despite a 30% spike in scrap prices, only 1,300 teu of cellular tonnage was sold for demolition in the past 60 days as operators seek out and deploy any container carrier that can pass inspection.
“The burgeoning container charter market, with historically high charter rates, has been instrumental in keeping owners away from the demolition scene,” Alphaliner said.
Indeed, despite scrap buyers offering around $600 per ldt-which distressed shipowners would have jumped at a year ago, particularly for their aging and unprofitable vessels-they are now getting surprising offers from shippers for their vessels, many times higher than they could get in the demolition market.
The consultancy identified just 15 container ships, totaling 12,431 teu, that had been sent to recycling yards in the first six months of the year – this contrasts sharply with the 56 for 143,000 teu scrapped in the first half of 2020.
And Alphaliner added: “The second half of 2021 is expected to see a persistently low number of scrapping sales in the face of a continuously strong charter market.”
Some 200,000 teu of container tonnage was scrapped last year, which is just a third of the record demolition sales from the crisis year of 2016, when Hanjin Shipping went bust and liner shipping was brought to its knees.
The post-bankruptcy containership capacity shortage and subsequent massive increases in freight rates have sent daily charter rates for containerships skyrocketing, which in turn has significantly increased the value of their assets.
According to Vesselsvalue data, the scrapping and market value of a classic panamax vessel just six months ago was about $9 million. Today, the scrap value has risen to about $12 million, while the market value of even an older vessel has jumped to just over $50 million, and continues to rise every day.
“It’s like Dunkirk,” he said, “any ship that can float is being deployed by the carriers right now. Carriers are giving blank checks to shipowners and not worrying about age or fuel consumption,” he said.
Olivia Watkins, chief cargo analyst at Vesselsvalue, explained, “Shipowners, such as MSC, have been buying vessels rather than entering the charter market as it is more efficient. For example, the 4,839-TEU Mexico, built in 2002, was sold to MSC at the end of June for $50.5 million. The alternative on a five-year charter could cost up to $70 million.”
the only thing keeping daily charter rates and asset values from rising further is the lack of buyers.
“There is nothing to charter and nothing to sell at the moment,” he said.