The size of the orderbook declined continuously month-on-month this year until October, when it reached 2.6 million TEU, its lowest level since December 2003. Meanwhile, the containership orderbook as a percentage of the fleet also declined, to below 13% in TEU terms in September, its lowest level on record.
“Overall, the decline in size of the Korean boxship orderbook has been the key driver behind the changing profile at a global level,” Clarksons Research said.
Traditionally, Korean yards have led boxship sector contracting, taking 49% of global orders in TEU terms from 2008 to 2016, notably receiving 56% of 8,000+ TEU orders in TEU terms in the same period. With the recent slowdown in containership ordering, especially in the 8,000+ TEU sector, the Korean boxship orderbook has shrunk to 0.6 million TEU as of the start of November, down 31% since October 2015 in TEU terms.
As a result, in May, the Korean boxship orderbook for the first time on record became smaller in size than that of both Chinese and Japanese builders, whose orderbooks stood at 1.4 million TEU and 0.6 million TEU as of the start of November, respectively.
Although this shake up has primarily been driven by a decline in larger boxship ordering, Chinese yards have also had an impact by competing in the 8,000+ TEU sector, having taken 36% of orders in 2017 so far, in numerical terms, up from only 18% in full year 2008. Additionally, Chinese yards still dominate sub-3,000 TEU boxship contracting, and have increased their share of orders from 54% in 2008 to 72% in 2017 so far in numerical terms.