Overcapacity issues surfaced as new capacity increased; too much capacity in 2010 resulted in oversupply in 2011. The shipping industry faced a series of financial difficulties created by stagnation in market growth and a dramatic increase in capacity – in both number of vessels and containers made available in the market.
Carriers placed a significant amount of new orders in 2008 for larger ships, which are expected to enter the world’s fleet by the end of 2012 and into 2013. Shipyards have been operating at a pace designed to service global demand that has simply failed to materialize; the hefty imbalance between supply and demand left carriers with surplus tonnage (as detailed in the PIERS Capacity Utilization Report 2011). Current industry trends show carrier accepting more of an active role in the management of their container assets, reviewing strategies to manage the fleet of empty containers and decreasing the amount of time a container sits idle or travels to be repositioned.
While threats to global economic recovery still exist with the Eurozone crisis and US debt negotiations, the consensus is that global economic growth will be sustained for several years to come. Drewry Maritime Research released their annual port sector report; forecasting a 6% increase in international container volume and global port throughput growing to 800 million TEUs in 2017 from 588 million TEUs in 2011. China’s share of container port throughput grew from 19% in 2002 to 30% in 2011. They report global marine terminals’ share of throughput grew from 58% in 2002 to 76% in 2011. They also warned that although port congestion may be a concern of today, growth in demand is expected to outstrip growth in port capacity.
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