Seatrade Global – Oversupply of old panamax boxships hits shipbreaking market

(Written by Shirish Nadkarni)

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7 March 2014 - An oversupply of old panamax container vessels has continued to wreak havoc on the Indian junk ship market, and several cash buyers appear to have overpaid on a whole tranche of units.

With Bangladesh off the pace and Indian buyers so far unwilling to match prices due to the estimated 15-20 similar vessels on offer, and perhaps only eight or so buyers able to take them, cash buyers found themselves in a situation where they needed to prop up the market, in other words not allow any vessels to be sold at lower prices.

The world’s largest cash buyer GMS remarked that the oversupply of vessels in the Indian market showed no signs of slowing as other owners decided to try and cash in on the exuberant levels on show.

Offers for tankers went as high as $460 per ldt from India, with Pakistani and Bangladeshi buyers quoting $455 and $450 per ldt, respectively. Indian offers for general cargo vessels hovered at around the $430 per ldt mark, with Gadani bids being $5 per ldt behind, and those from Chittagong being a further $5 per ldt back.

China and Turkey remained mostly absent from ship recycling activity, with their offers of $330 per ldt for tankers and $310 per ldt for dry cargo vessels paling in comparison with bids from the Indian sub-continent.

Two sales in particular caught the headlines, with the 13,221 ldt ro-ro vessel Eurocargo Africa hitting a remarkable level of $493 per ldt and the 7,231 ldt Handysize bulk carrier Mistral achieving an extraordinary mark of $470 per ldt. A full set of spares on board both vessels contributed in part to the high prices, in addition to the ongoing speculative push on levels.

Meanwhile, the Indian rupee has remained stable, trading in the range of INR61-62 against the US dollar for most of the month of February. Steel prices have remained good to firm; and, while they might not have gained much ground, they did not fall, either.

Brokers feel that it might take one more cycle to get Bangladeshi buyers interested again, since their plots are already packed with the huge number of vessels (capesize bulkers, VLCCs, larger containers and panamax/handysize bulkers) they have imported during the first two months of this year.