Surplus containers manageable, says Drewry
Global pool of shipping containers increased 13 percent to almost 50 mteu in 2021
As many as 6 mteu of surplus containers now exist in the global equipment pool, according to Drewry's Container Census & Leasing Annual Review & Forecast 2022/23.
"While large by historic standards, Drewry considers this surplus to be manageable for the industry," says the report.
The global pool of shipping containers increased 13 percent to almost 50 mteu in 2021, which was three times prior growth trend. "This reflected lessors and ocean carriers ordering a record number of containers while retiring fewer ageing units as congestion across global supply chains meant containers were an estimated 15-20 percent less productive than in pre-Covid-19 times."
Drewry estimates that each container averaged 18.1 lifts in 2021 compared with 19.2 in 2020 and between 19.5 and 20.6 in the 2010s. The number of containers per slot of vessel capacity increased by 8 percent in 2020 when the pandemic started and remained at this level throughout 2021.
"The delivery schedule of new ships is very strong with slot capacity expected to increase by 3.6 mteu in 2023 and by over 3.9 mteu in 2024," says John Fossey, Head of container equipment research, Drewry. "With new IMO emissions regulations coming into force in January 2023 forcing some ships to sail slower, much of the surplus equipment currently in service is expected to be absorbed. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that some carriers are planning to have more buffer stock in their equipment pools, while fewer new containers will be built in the next two years.
"Looking ahead, ocean carriers will be the main buyers of equipment over the next two years with lessors then taking control again, raising their share of the pool to 54 percent by 2026."
While newbuild and second-hand prices will fall, a return to the very low prices of 2019 is not anticipated as manufacturers are expected to manage their capacity and pricing strategies very carefully, the report said.
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