Larger orderbooks to force ocean carriers to pursue increased market share


The delivery of ultra-large tonnage will force two ocean carriers in particular, COSCO and Evergreen, to attempt to grow their market share significantly in the coming 18 months. according to maritime research company, SeaIntel.

“Given that both (carriers) are in the same alliance, we should therefore expect the market dynamics to reflect an Ocean Alliance that will be attempting to assert their power in the main deep-sea trades,” it said.

SeaIntel underlined that HMM, Hapag Lloyd, MSC, CMA CGM, Maersk Line, and Yang Ming all have orderbooks which constitute less than 20% of their charter fleets, which indicated a strong degree of strategic flexibility to match capacity injections with redelivery of charter tonnage, if capacity growth exceeds demand growth.

“ONE is in a difficult position with a orderbook to charter ratio of 30%, making absorbing new capacity based on organic market growth extremely challenging.

“COSCO and Evergreen however, are at the opposite end of the spectrum with very large orderbooks. Unless we see exceptionally high demand growth, charter redelivery will be entirely insufficient to absorb the excess capacity. They will need to either increase their market share or sell existing assets, which will be a very unattractive option, since it will have to be in the very large vessel segment as well.”

SeaIntel noted that with an expected demand growth rate of 4-5%, 2M’s capacity injection fits the expected market developments quite well, whereas THE Alliance can relatively easily curb the capacity injection via charter redeliveries to meet demand as well. However, the annualized growth rate for Ocean Alliance is significantly beyond the anticipated demand growth rates.

SeaIntel's CEO, Alan Murphy said: “The continuing delivery of vessels ordered several years ago is likely to have a significant impact on the competitive dynamics, as some carriers are left with no option but the pursuit of market share in the next couple of years.”

He added: “Even if a positive view of demand is adopted assuming stronger growth on the head haul East-West trades, it is exceedingly unlikely that this is sufficient to match the capacity injection by Ocean Alliance, especially if the new CMA CGM order of nine 22,000 TEU vessels is confirmed.”