09-02-2018

Dynamar: The top 10 Multipurpose operators

Top 10 multipurpose operators by deadweight capacity

As of early January 2018, the 10 largest operators -by deadweight- of multipurpose/project/heavy-lift tonnage combined deployed a fleet of 460 ships with a total deadweight of 8,136,000 million tons and an aggregate lifting capability of 147,000 tons. The ships’ average age is eight years.

Because of an in part different composition of this Top 10 vis-à-vis the one published one year ago, an exact comparison cannot be made. Yet, it is clear that the state of the market (as was) has caused various operators to reduce on their operated tonnage. Nonetheless, overall capacity has remained exactly the same in terms of ships (460 units both years) while capacity is just 2% higher. Altogether, the current ten largest operators differ two companies only, with Zeaborn and PACC Line replacing Rickmers Linie (as a separate company) and Swire Shipping.

An orderbook is currently known for four of the operators, building 22 vessels, 315,000-deadweight and 11,900 tons heavy-lift. The good news is that this Top 10 orderbook has come down to just 4% (3.9% to be precise) of the operated fleet.

Dwt

Multipurpose

Existing fleet

On Order

Rank

Operator 1/2018

Ships

Total dwt

ØDwt

ØAge

Ships

Total dwt

ØDwt

Share

1

Cosco SSC

64

1,758,000

27,500

2009

1

38,000

37,600

2%

2

BBC

146

1,675,000

11,500

2009

1

13,000

12,500

1%

3

Spliethoff

48

778,000

16,200

2005

6

108,000

18,000

14%

4

Thorco

48

754,000

15,700

2010

-

-

-

-

5

Zeaborn

42

636,000

15,100

2006

-

-

-

-

6

AAL

21

629,000

30,000

2011

-

-

-

-

7

Chipolbrok

20

622,000

31,100

2010

-

-

-

-

8

Intermarine

43

485,000

11,300

2008

14

157,000

11,200

32%

9

MACS

13

405,000

31,100

2006

-

-

-

-

10

PACC Line

15

394,000

26,200

2007

-

-

-

-

2018

Top 10 Multipurpose

460

8,136,000

17,700

2008

22

315,000

14,300

4%

Notes to the ten operators in sequence of their ranking:

Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers (CoscoSSC) of Guangzhou has taken over, not for the first time, from BBC Chartering as the world’s largest multipurpose operator by deadweight. The growth of its fleet by six units is entirely due to newbuilding delivery. In 2013, the Chinese launched a newbuilding programme comprising 12x 29,500-dwt/700 tons heavy-lift units, plus 11x 38,000-dwt/200 tons crane capacity. The last one of 38,000-dwt (which are among the largest multipurpose ships in the world) will come up for delivery in the first half of 2018. CoscoSSC, previously named Cosco Lines, also deploys semi-submersible vessels (8), car carriers (6), asphalt (11) and log carriers (13), which are not included in this multipurpose ranking.

Having reduced its fleet by 13 to a still very sizeable 146 ships/1,675,000 TEU, BBC Chartering of Leer has returned to the second place in the ranking. Because of the fact that BBC, through its parent Briese, has a relative easy and quick access to tonnage, it may certainly not be excluded that it will be the other way round again, next year, taking over from the aforementioned Chinese again. Most certainly so if the expected, at least hoped for, improvement of the breakbulk market in 2018 comes true. In terms of deadweight capacity of individual ships, BBC Chartering’s units are the penultimate smallest -11,500-dwt- after those of Intermarine (11,300-dwt).

Dutch Spliethoff has meanwhile sold off its entire eight-unit strong 1990/2-built 12,000-dwt A-type fleet. Pending the delivery of six 118,000-dwt R-type ships currently being built, it has taken five 13,000-dwt vessels on time charter. These latter ships have helped the Amsterdam-based company to rise to the third spot in the current ranking although it still deploys, overall, the oldest fleet (2005-built). Ships operated by Spliethoff’s subsidiaries BigLift, Bore, Sevenstar, Transfennica and Wijnne Barends are not included in their parent’s fleet.

As compared to one year ago, Thorco has seen the largest fleet reduction, with the number of ships falling by 23 units/287,000-dwt to 48 vessels/754,000-dwt, relegating the Danes to the fourth place, down one. Its fleet list still states four ships with a Clipper name style and another four also appearing on the UHL (United Heavy Lift) list. Three of the latter have a heavy lift capability of 800 tons. Thorco formally merged its breakbulk operations with the two mentioned companies in 2013 and in 2016, respectively.

New in the ranking is Zeaborn of Bremen. In early February (2017), this still relatively young company acquired, against rather special conditions, Rickmers Linie including NPC Projects from Bertram Rickmers. In 2016, it had already taken over the commercial management of part of the Carisbrooke (UK) fleet and the chartering activities of the HC Group of Hamburg, amongst others. Altogether, April 2013 founded Zeaborne currently operates 42 multipurpose ships: Rickmers Linie’s core fleet of 9x 30,000-dwt/640 tons heavy-lift ships, 8x 10,000-dwt/120-160 tons crane capacity vessels through HC Chartering and 25x 11,500-dwt/120-300 tons geared vessels as Zeaborn Chartering.

Last May, AAL and Doehle put a stop to their altogether short-lived AAL & Doehle Alliance joint breakbulk heavy lift services. To fill the gap left behind by its former partner, Singapore-based AAL has been increasing its fleet numbers, currently amounting to fourteen owned vessels with each 700 tons heavy lift capability, plus seven 33,000-dwt chartered ships with 110 tons crane capacity each. Despite this 3-vessel capacity expansion compared to a year ago, AAL remained the number six while its fleet is still the youngest, average 6 years as well.

Operating one bottom less than a year ago, Chinese/Polish Chipolbrok fell to the 7th place in the Top 10 ranking. The 20-unit-fleet includes four 37,000-dwt vessels deployed by the company’s subsidiary Shanghai Hongfa Shipping, operating between the Far East and the East Coast of South America. Chipolbrok’s longstanding main routes are, unchanged, the Europe-Asia and North Amerika-Asia corridors.

 

Although this company’s fleet has increased by 3 units, Intermarine USA makes up for, unchanged, the number eight by deadweight of the January 2018 multipurpose Top 10. The Americans’ existing fleet increased from 40 to 43 units at present. Unchanged as well is that, with 11,300-dwt average, it has the smallest ships of the pack and: the largest orderbook of them all. The latter now counts 14 vessels, of which eight will have a heavy-lift capability of 900 tons each.

MACS of Hamburg is active in the multipurpose liner trades connecting North Europe and the US Gulf with Southern Africa, as well as, through very recently acquired Hugo Stinnes, North Europe with the Caribbean and US Gulf. Although the Hugo Stinnes takeover brought one chartered ship in, the number of vessels operating in the Southern Africa  trades reduced, with the total MACS fleet now comprising 13 ships, down one to nine.

For many years, Pacific Carriers, part of the large Kuok Group of Singapore, has operated a South East Asia-US East Coast/Gulf project and breakbulk semi-liner service under the style of PACC Line. It has recently added a global project and parcel service element to its portfolio for which it, in addition to its parent’s bulk carriers, also uses chartered multipurpose tonnage. With its extended fleet of currently 15 ships/394,000-dwt PACC comes in at the number 10 place, factually pushing stalwart Swire Shipping out of the ranking.    

The above analysis is based on the number of general cargo/multipurpose ships, with or without crane capacity, operated by the said 10 operators. Such ships form the core of the breakbulk trades. In other words, and although these carry breakbulk cargoes as well, the following vessels types have NOT been considered here: OHGC, RoRo, Vehicle Carrier and specialist Heavy Load and Open Deck Ship, as well as Semi-Submersible vessels.

Top 10 multipurpose operators by heavy-lift capability

The early January 2018 combined heavy-lift capability ranking of the same 10 multipurpose operators looks slightly different. Their 460 vessels have an aggregate on board lifting capability of 146,900 tons (+2%) with a practically unchanged rounded average of 320 tons per unit, ranging between 40 (Cosco and MACS) and 1,400 tons (Intermarine).

With total 49,600 tons, a share of 33%/average 340 tons, BBC Chartering remains by far the most capable operator of the pack. Lifting capacities per vessel ranging between 80 and 900 tons, constitute the widest capability spread of all Top 10 operators.

Though operating again more ships than a year ago, albeit just 3, Intermarine’s heavy-lift capacity slightly decreased to 20,600 tons, 480 average. Nonetheless it is now the second largest operator by aggregate heavy lift capacity. It has another 14 newbuildings in the pipeline, of which eight with 900 tons capability and six with 300 tons.

Ranging between 40 and 700 tons, Cosco SSC is challenging the heavy-lift spread of BBC Chartering. However, with 18,600 tons and 290 tons respectively, the number three’s total and average lift capacities are still below those of the latter.

With 590 tons, the 20 Chipolbrok/Shanghai Hongfa ships still have the highest average crane capacity (between 300 and 700 tons). AAL comes second with the 500 tons average capability of its current 21 vessels (14x 700 tons; 7x 110 tons). In terms of total lift capacity, these two companies are ranking 4 and 5, respectively.

With respect to heavy lift capability, Rickmers Linie’s contribution of 640 tons for each of its 9 vessels helps newcomer (in the ranking) Zeaborn to a 5th place in the relevant ranking. The crane capacities of its remaining 33 ships range between 60 and 300 tons.  

The fleets of Spliethoff and Thorco both have an aggregate lifting capacity of just over 10,000 tons, with average 210 tons per ship each. The relevant heavy-lift competences of PACC Line and MACS are a modest 140 to 145 tons average.  

HL

Multipurpose

Existing fleet

On Order

Rank

Operator 1/2018

Ships

HL

ØHL

ØAge

Ships

HL

ØHL

Share

1

BBC

146

49,600

340

2009

1

500

500

1%

2

Intermarine

43

20,600

480

2008

14

9,000

640

44%

3

Cosco SSC

64

18,600

290

2009

1

200

200

1%

4

Chipolbrok

20

11,900

590

2010

-

-

-

-

5

Zeaborn

42

11,200

270

2006

-

-

-

-

6

AAL

21

10,600

500

2011

-

-

-

-

7

Spliethoff

48

10,300

215

2005

6

2,200

360

21%

8

Thorco

48

10,100

210

2010

-

-

-

-

9

PACC Line

15

2,100

140

2007

-

-

-

-

10

MACS

13

1,900

145

2006

-

-

-

-

2018

Top 10 Multipurpose

460

146,900

320

2008

22

11,900

540

8%

The above analyses is based on the number of general cargo/multipurpose ships, with or without crane capacity, operated by the said 10 operators. Such ships form the core of the breakbulk trades. In other words, and although these carry breakbulk cargoes as well, the following vessels types have NOT been considered here: OHGC, RoRo, Vehicle Carrier and specialist Heavy Load and Open Deck Ship, as well as Semi-Submersible vessels.

The 2018 breakbulk market and a bit beyond

Beyond doubt, the global economy is improving. The outlook for the coming five years in terms of GDP development and the growth of imports and exports have probably not been better ever since 2008.

The breakbulk industry should undoubtedly benefit from this global recovery and enjoy an uptick in volumes.

Both will be hard to get started, but maintenance to existing oil and gas installations can no longer be ignored; increasing oil prices  should induce investment in new installations.

Investments in shale gas, alternative energy, offshore wind turbines (in particular), and large-scale solar projects are expected to grow as well.

Backhaul parcels in the form of minor bulks including steel and forest products, agribulk and fertilisers and the like are forecast to grow up to 3% in 2018.

The effects of the 2016 and 2017 -not yet ended- consolidation wave, together with a very low orderbook for multipurpose/project/heavy-lift tonnage, and this in combination with the expected economic recovery should see breakbulk operators writing dark grey ink again by the end of 2018.

Such a pity that Car Carriers have developed into such formidable breakbulk operators. And that container carriers continue having sufficient space for project cargoes on their too big ships. Else the results of the multipurpose operators, who can’t be beaten for flexibility, might have become deep dark black.

So in all, the improving economy will increase demand and hopefully reduce competition from bulk carriers, container operators or reefer ships. As rate levels are set by the demand-and-competition mix, the effects of this all on breakbulk rates will initially be subdued.

Source: Press Release

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