Vessel Ownership: Global Flyers and Crawlers
Even as Nigeria oscilates at acquiring vessels for local and international services, while from conference to conference so much is written (very little read) so much is said, very little or nothing achieved, Greece has topped the world fleet values ranking as released by VesselsValue, with an owned fleet worth just under $100 billion, followed closely by Japan and China, worth $89 and $84 billion respectively. The top 10 global fleets are worth an estimated $516 billion.
Greek owners remain the dominant force in global shipping. The value of the Greek fleet is concentrated in the tanker ($36 billion), bulker ($35.75 billion), and LNG ($13.5 billion) vessel types. Hellenic control of these markets stands at about 19 percent of the total worth of the fleets.
The strong commitment of Greek owners to the global shipping markets looks unlikely to change as others, such as Germany, are liquidating assets, says VesselsValue. However, the trend in Chinese ownership is rising, as state owned companies are consolidating and placing new orders, a reminder that there are always new challengers for the top spot. Greek owners, with their sharp focus on commercial results, should continue to lead the pack for the foreseeable future.
Japanese companies are the second largest group of shipowners by value and remain in the same league as Greece. The country’s interests in the dry bulk and LNG segments are on par with the leader, but it does not have as much exposure to the tanker markets. Japanese refinery capacity has been falling since the late 2000s, a trend that will continue as the country faces stiff competition from other Asian refiners. Japanese tanker owners continue to trade in the global markets, but growth will not come from domestic demand, says VesselsValue.
Japan is the top owner of LNG vessels by value, which is a strong strategic fit for its energy needs. Nuclear power remains under high scrutiny, and additional plants may shutter in the years ahead. This leaves natural gas and coal as the top alternatives for power generation. The high ownership of dry bulk and LNG vessels make the trading fleet well suited to match domestic consumption.
China is close behind Japan and Greece. The rise of the country’s economy since 2000 has had impacts on all shipping and commodity markets. The growth trajectory has slowed recently but remains a positive force for ton mile demand across all vessel types.
The Chinese share of global ownership should continue to move upwards over the next decade across all markets, says VesselsValue. The large amount of crude oil that is imported into the country is moving on an increasingly national fleet. This trend, combined with rising product exports should boost the number of tankers that come under owner’s umbrellas.