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The Greek shipping fleet is expected to continue its upward trend in 2022 and 2023 across all sectors, even allowing for higher scrapping, Petrofin Research said in a report issued yesterday, detailing the course of the shipping sector in Greece, both in terms of fleet size and the number of companies involved. According to the main findings of the report, “in 2021, an impressive return of confidence took place to the point where tonnage went up by approx. 30m tons DWT, adding to the fleet over 347 vessels, which more than outweighed the previous year’s reduction”. In total the number of vessels grew from 5,623 in 2020 to 6,123 in 2021.

All sectors showed growth in DWT terms in 2021, and of the 340 vessels added, 305 were over 20,000 tons DWT. In number of vessels in 2021, only tankers showed a decline by 16 units, although the tanker fleet’s DWT went up by 3%, only less than half a million tons from the highest volume the sector reached in 2019. Similarly, the number of Greek companies has been on the rise since 2019. By 2021 there were 607 up from a low of 588 in 2018 but down from an all time high in 1998. Despite the recent rise, there is evidence of consolidation over the last 20 years. In terms of the size of the companies running the Greek fleet, 25+ vessel fleets went up to 54 in 2021, the highest number ever, from a slight fall in 2020 (50). Tonnage wise they are up by an impressive 23.24m tons DWT compared to 2020.

Also, what continues to be interesting, is that the total number of companies running very young fleets (0-9 years of age) continues its downward trend, this time to 120 in 2020 and 118 in 2021 (146 in 2018) reflecting the relatively fewer newbuildings and the small increase in the average age of this segment. “The rise in age that began in 2018 continues. The total age of the whole of the Greek fleet was 13.5 in 2021, from 13.2 in 2020, 12.2 in 2019 and 12.08 in 2018. As explained above, we note the slowdown of a) newbuilding deliveries, b) the acquisition of market based tonnage and c) reduced scrapping. The continuous evolution of the Greek fleet is reflected in the latest figures and this trend is expected to continue”, Petrofin Research said.

In its detailed analysis, Petrofin Research said that “as the effects of Covid-19 have begun to wane, it is the war in Ukraine that heavily impacted international shipping in 2022. The international sanctions have severely affected trade routes. The extremely high energy prices have resulted in inflation rates shooting up across the world and especially in Europe and the US. Central banks were forced to raise interest rates with US Dollar rates to levels of 5%, whereas US$ LIBOR was less than 0.5% only a year ago”.

According to Petrofin Research, “the combination of all the above factors and a slowdown of China have led to a booming Tanker market but a fall in Dry Bulk and Container markets. All sectors have been affected by short term disruptions in the patterns of trade as Europe tries to import as much LNG, coal and oil as possible to offset Russian cessation of gas supply ahead of this winter. In addition, the congestion in China and Australia fell rapidly further adding downward pressure on charter rates. Thus far, Tankers have greatly benefitted from the war and its consequences, whilst Dry Bulk and Containers have suffered”.

“Seeking to determine the implications for Greek shipping it would appear that the Greek fleet is expected to continue its upward trend in 2022 and 2023 across all sectors, even allowing for higher scrapping. Second hand activity is considerably reduced in 2022 as high level prices in Dry Bulk vessels and Containers is supported by charter rates. Consequently, the mix between newbuilding, second hand vessels and scrapping is expected to result in a marginally slower increase in the Greek fleet in 2022. Sales of Tanker vessels are also down this year despite the high charter rates due to high level prices. Overall, we anticipate a modest growth in the Greek fleet for 2022 with an anticipated higher growth in 2023 and a continued modest rise in the fleet’s age. Overall, the fleet’s growth and newbuilding orders are hindered by the concerns over a new and cost effective propulsion system that would meet the emissions targets post 2030. This is holding back owners from exuberant ordering of Tier III vessels. In addition, it is expected that scrapping will increase due to technical / emissions related reasons. Lastly, the gap between the Greek and Chinese fleet is expected to continue to narrow, especially once China achieves its much anticipated recovery in 2023”, Petrofin Research concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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