Newbuilding prices rose by 15% on average in 2022 on the previous year with those for LNG carriers climbing by 18%, according to Clarksons Research. But the brokerage’s research arm reports that global newbuilding order volumes fell 20% in compensated gross tonnes terms on 2021’s totals. Clarkson Research said 2022 saw more complex ships contracted. LNG carrier orders dominated. The research team’s figures topped all other tallies, recording a whopping 182 LNG carriers, comprising 36% of CGT orders in 2022 worth some $39bn. Container ships followed at 350 vessels and 29% of CGT down 50% on 2021 but still the third largest on record on a TEU basis, Clarksons said. Car carriers came in at 69 vessels and 2.4% of CGT, with floating production storage and offloading units plus the wind sector also doing well, the broker detailed.

But despite improving charter markets, tanker orders plummeted 64% and bulkers 54%. Clarksons detailed that alternative fuel investment also increased accounting for a record 61% of all tonnage ordered. These factors all supported a 6% increase in value of orders to $124.3bn, the broker said. Chinese shipowners took the order crown in 2022 placing $18.4bn worth of orders, followed by Japanese owners on $15.1bn and Italians with $11bn with the trio amounting to 36% of investment. But Clarksons said Greek owners “kept their powder dry” accounting for just $8.5bn worth of contracts.

China topped the table taking 49% of orders, with South Korea on 38% and contracts for Japanese shipbuilders down by nearly 50% on present figures. Overall shipbuilding output fell by 8%, Clarksons said, listing China on 47% of the total, Korea 25%, and Japan 16% with Europe stable on 8% thanks to cruise ship deliveries. The broker detailed that there are now only 131 “large active yards” compared to 320 in 2009 and estimates that shipbuilding capacity is about 40% lower than a decade ago. Looking ahead to this year and beyond, Clarksons Research said: “Increased tanker orders seem likely for 2023, along with a continued flow of LNG.”

The broker flagged up that the orderbooks for tankers and bulkers are historically low at just 4% and 6% of their fleets. It said the container ship market is likely to be weaker although there may still be more orders, possibly for the feeder ship sector. The brokerage is also forecasting that deliveries will “tick up” by about 6% this year with container ships and LNG carrier handovers expected to account for 41% of this year’s scheduled deliveries and 58% of those in 2024. Clarksons said there will also be “increasing underlying fleet renewal requirements” as the decade develops both on the back of tougher emissions regulations and to counter the ageing fleet. But the research team highlighted that 2023 will have also have “marketing challenges” for yards. “Macro-economic risk is material and may weigh on investor sentiment, alternative fuel choices remain tricky and newbuild prices and berth availability are a hurdle for some owners,” the broker said. “Along with currency and inflation yards will need to be as agile as ever.”

LNG dual-fueled: 397 or over 50% of orders comprising 36.7m gt

Methanol-fueled: 43 or 7% of orders comprising 5m gt

LPG fueled: 17 or 1.1% of orders comprising 0.8m gt

Battery hybrid: 1.2% of orders

Ammonia ready: 10.8% of orders

LNG ready: 1.4%

Hydrogen ready: 0.1%

Source: Clarksons Research