Maersk Suspends Order for 15 Methanol Container Ships to Chinese Shipbuilder

Danish shipping giant Maersk has decided to postpone its shipbuilding program for up to 15 3,500 TEU methanol dual-fuel powered feeder container ships while Chinese Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen Marine is ordering methanol dual-fuel powered container ships.

According to recent news from Trade Winds, Maersk has decided to postpone an order for up to 15 3,500 TEU methanol dual-fuel powered feeder container ships from China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding. The reason is not yet known. It is not clear why Maersk decided to suspend the project.

Maersk plans to re-examine the shipbuilding program in the second half of this year, shipbrokers said. Industry insiders believe that as the world’s second-largest liner giant, Maersk’s announcement to suspend the newbuilding program, which has been selected as a key ship type for the future, is unusual.

In October last year, Maersk first rumored that it would order as many as 15 methanol dual-fuel powered feeder container ships, and said it had issued bidding invitations to a number of Chinese shipyards, including Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, CSSC Huangpu Wenchong, and Zhoushan Changhong International.

At the end of last year, it was reported that CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding succeeded in obtaining this large order for dual-fuel container ships from Maersk with a more competitive price advantage. The two sides had signed an agreement for 15 3,500 TEU methanol dual-fuel-powered feeder container ships in December last year, with a total order value of US$1.02 billion.

Businesskorea, a South Korean media source, said it is highly unlikely that Maersk will cancel the order considering the high liquidated damages. “Maersk will restart the shipbuilding program when the project reaches a certain level of maturity,” the industry source said.

It is understood that Maersk first placed an order for methanol dual-fuel powered ships with a Chinese shipyard in June 2023, when the company signed a construction contract with Yangzijiang Shipbuilding for six 9,000 TEU methanol dual-fuel powered container ships, which is also the first order for methanol dual-fuel powered container ships undertaken by this private shipbuilding enterprise. Up to now, Maersk’s orders for methanol-fueled newbuildings have reached 25, which will be delivered at Chinese and Korean shipyards between 2024 and 2027.

Although Maersk’s order is “hanging”, but industry sources say that the same top ten liner giant Evergreen Marine has just ordered six 2400TEU methanol dual-fuel powered feeder container ships from CSSC Huangpu Wenchong.

The order marks the raising of Evergreen Marine’s newbuilding investment since 2021 to more than US$10 billion. Meanwhile, the order is another new shipbuilding contract for the global liner giant this year, following the announcement by Japan’s Ocean Network Associated Shipping (ONE) that it has ordered a total of 12 13,000 TEU methanol dual-fuel powered container ships from CSSC’s Jiangnan Shipyard and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding.

Container ship orders have fallen so far this year due to record deliveries. The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) pointed out that container ship deliveries in the first four months of this year have exceeded 1 million TEUs, an increase of nearly 80% compared to the previous record. Hand orders were reduced due to record deliveries of new vessels, but still stood at 6.1 million TEUs, equivalent to 21% of existing fleet capacity.

BIMCO expects container ship deliveries to exceed 3 million TEUs this year, 30% higher than last year; by 2025, deliveries will be just under 2 million TEUs, with deliveries trailing only 2023 and 2024.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding

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