CMA CGM's latest order for nine mega container ships will not spark a buying spree, according to one broker, but the price for the large vessels appears to have stabilised.
CMA CGM’s latest deal for nine 22,000 teu container ships from Chinese yards – the first ultra-large container ship order since 2015 – is not expected to inspire to a rash of orders akin to that seen in 2013–15.
Ranulf Swallow, a broker at Braemar ACM told Fairplay, “The alliances are all set up now and they have structured their services with all the large vessels that they need, and with the industry consolidation there is no reason for the other lines to follow suit."
In total IHS Markit Maritime and Trade figures show that 90 ships totalling 1.799 million teu have been ordered since 2013 with the latest order from CMA CGM adding a further 198,000 teu.
Mega-container ship prices hovered at around the USD160 million mark at time of press, a little under the USD163 million price tag seen for Maersk’s last Triple E order at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) yard in South Korea. It is of note that the Triple E vessels were fitted with IMO Tier II engines, and vessels with tier II engines ordered from Chinese yards bore a sticker price of around USD155 million.
CMA CGM did pay USD145 million per ship for a series of three 20,000 teu vessels in 2015 from Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Philippines. However, this pricing was considered an exception from the norm, mainly due to low labour costs in the Philippines.
In its latest order, CMA CGM has signed a letter of intent for nine vessels at a reported USD160 million each, but the order has yet to be confirmed. However, yards often lay a number of keels, prior to the enforcement of new rules to “skirt around regulations”, according to one shipyard industry insider.
Tier III NOx regulations came into force in January 2016, but some yards are still offering Tier II slots, which will reduce the final price of the vessel. The insider said that the yards “offer cheap rates to close clients”.
There is no suggestion that CMA CGM has managed to “skirt” the Tier III regulations in this way, and when Fairplay contacted the line for a comment on the letter of intent, a spokesperson said, ”We cannot confirm the order, we never comment on market rumours.”