Global dry cargo demand growth, which is forecast at 5% per annum from 2016 to 2019, is anticipated to be offset by falling project cargo volumes over the next 12-18 months, according to the latest edition of the Multipurpose Shipping Market Review and Forecaster, published by Drewry Maritime Research.
Susan Oatway, Lead Analyst, Drewry Maritime Research, said “the fall in oil prices, coupled with growing demand and a diminishing fleet should be good news for the multi-purpose shipping sector. However, it appears that the flipside of lower bunker prices is a global decline in oil and gas investment projects.
“There have already been reports of fewer project cargoes available for the multipurpose fleet to carry as project investment has started to slow.”
With the fall in prices, there is less incentive to invest in oil and gas projects – one of the largest project cargo sectors. This will, in turn, mean a reduction of available cargo and slower demand growth for the fleet.
Oatway said: “Our analysis of the fleet shows that the simple multipurpose fleet is in decline, with little investment beyond replacement tonnage. However the more advanced vessels, the project carriers, are seeing fleet growth of around 3.5% per annum to end 2018. It is the cargo for these vessels that is directly affected by this slowdown in the sector.”
Because of the fall in oil prices and the competition from the container fleet in particular, the growth in demand for dry cargo is expected to be subdued over 2015 and 2016.
Oatway concluded that “the outlook for the multi-purpose sector will be largely determined by developments within the container and bulk markets and how far they will encroach on general, breakbulk and project cargo. As usual, the effect of lower oil prices has delayed the project market, but we expect 2015 to be a slow year as the sector readjusts to the idea that oil is no longer priced at $100 per barrel&rs [sic] quo.”