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Thursday, September 03, 2009

More lay-up looms as container count climbs

Thursday, 03 September 2009

Demand for good lay-up locations in Asia is likely to tighten as finance sources predict more container vessel deliveries sailing straight for lay-up. Late August figures indicated close to 600 container ships idling or laid up. With the largest vessel the recently delivered 11400 TEU CMA CGM Libra reportedly idling off Mipo in South Korea.
Charter owners are coming under increasing pressure as leading lines hand back unwanted tonnage. Yet it is these owners who account for around 60% of the orderbook, almost exclusively under construction at yards in Asia. As new ships deliver, a ballast voyage for colder north European waters will be an expensive option although colder water and less humidity is certainly beneficial for long-term lay-up, according to technical personnel. Maersk, for example, is currently initiating a lay-up programme on Loch Striven in Scotland.
However, finance sources are also warning that an effective lay-up programme doesn't come cheap. And apart from the direct costs, many owners will still be expected to pay debt interest even if there is a holiday on principal repayments. A full moratorium on debt service will be unlikely except for ultra-secure customers where full repayment over time is as certain as can be.