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Delivery of new container vessels exts into 2025
American Shipper
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It has been a hectic year so far for the worlds largest indepent owner and operator of container vessels, Seaspan Corporation, which has benefited colossally from the upturn in the market and shortage of container vessels.

The past year has seen a consistent burst in the orders for newbuilds – as soon as one order has been announced, another one lands. Most recently last week, as Isreali Zim utilized an option for another five large LNG-fueled container vessels ordered by Canada-based Seaspan from Chinese shipyards.

The curve has begun to settle, however, and there are several reasons for this, explains COO Torsten Holst Pedersen in an interview with ShippingWatch.

For one, the delivery schedule for ships has been exted into 2025, as large container vessels have to be built in a specific and limited number of shipyards. And that horizon is so far away that carriers prefer to hold off and wait.

Further, the price has gone up by more than 20 percent, according to Holst Pedersen, since the first major newbuild orders at the of 2020, when both prices and delivery periods were favorable.

Continued pressure in the market

"The pace has slowed down a bit during the summer, but theres still pressure in the freight market and chaos in the global logistics chains. Lately, we see companies such as Ikea tering their own vessels to ensure transport," he explains.

"The capacity at shipyards is decreasing, too, pushing deliveries to the ning of 2025. And the prices have also gone up, among other things due to an increase in the price of steel as well as the usual supply-and-demand mechanisms."

Seaspans newbuild program has now reached 60 vessels, which will expand the existing fleet capacity by around 770,000 teu. For comparison, Evergreen, the worlds seventh largest container carrier, currently comprises a little less than 700,000 teu.

Carriers are still largely ordering ships that sail on conventional fuel, but there has been a rise in the orders for LNG-fueled vessels, especially as container majors such as CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and ZIM have chosen gas for their dual-fuel engines.

So far, no one has ordered methanol- or ammonia-fueled vessels, according to Holst Pedersen. Methanol is now a possibility, as the engine has existed for years, and there are ships in the global merchant fleet that sail on the native fuel.However, green methanol, which Maersk placed an order for last month – eight ships equivalent to 16,000 teu – is so far not available for large container vessels, as the production of the native fuel will have to be scaled considerably to meet the demand of the global merchant fleet.

An ammonia engine is not expected to hit the market until 2023 or 2024.

Not enough native fuel

"Building methanol ships is not the issue. The large development gap is to manufacture sufficient amounts of green methanol and making it commercially available in the right locations. It therefore makes sense that Maersk would place such an order, as they can determine and decide which routes to deploy the ships in," the COO explains.

On Wednesday, DNV Maritime CEO Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen told ShippingWatch that ammonia and methanol wont be widely available in the next decade, as the supply levels wont be able to meet the demand from shipping.

And that estimate is likely true, assesses Holst Pedersen.

In addition to the record amount of orders for newbuilds, Seaspan and its parent company, Atlas Corp, have also been active in financing during the past year, including two large sustainable loans. "Our financial strength has been a major driving force, enabling us to funnel USD 7 billion into newbuild orders," he says.

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