• 2020 May 1 09:42

    Three out of five converted VLOCs are no longer operating - BIMCO

    Converted Very Large Ore Carriers (VLOC) are increasingly becoming a thing of the past with the long-term freight contracts coming to an end as newer and more reliable ships replace them in the market, BIMCO said in its release.

    Since June 2017, 43% of the VLOC fleet have been sent to the scrapyards, while 18% of the fleet is idled or damaged.

    “The tragic Stellar Daisy accident brought the safety aspect of VLOCs into question. Now, three years on, three out of five VLOCs are no longer in operation as their long-term charters have now expired. Going forward, the obsolete VLOCs will be phased out of the market and replaced with technologically superior and more reliable ships,” says BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst, Peter Sand.

    The VLOCs were converted from single-hull Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) towards the end of 2000 as an innovative result of the dry bulk super cycle and the IMO regulation which mandated that all single hull tankers should be phased out by 2010. With cheap and obsolete tanker tonnage in the market, investors eyed an opportunity to convert the ships into VLOCs and deploy them on long-term contracts of affreightment, often with a duration of 10 years.

    In June 2017, BIMCO analyzed the VLOC fleet which at the time consisted of 51 ships with an average age of 23.8 years, not far from the average demolition age of 24.2 years. Back then, we argued that the ships on long-term contracts still made solid economic sense, given a second-hand price equal to the scrap value and stable earnings.

    Arguably, the maintenance and repair costs are significantly higher than younger tonnage, but the statement from 2017 still holds true, granted the condition that the ships have employment under long-term contract. Once the VLOCs no longer have to fulfil obligations under long-term contracts, the economic incentive to keep the ships afloat evaporates.

    At face value, during their time as ore carriers, these ships have provided a solid return on investment, even when accounting for higher maintenance cost. Although the conversion from tanker to dry bulker came at an estimated price of USD 12-15m, plus the cost of the actual ship, the freight revenue from the long-term contracts for carrying ore from Brazil to China have exceeded the cost by a fair margin.

    Since the last analysis, the fleet has undergone a massive trimming with 28 ships remaining in the fleet, eight of which are lying idle in Labuan, a dedicated lay-up site. Since June 2017, 22 ships have been scrapped while one is damaged and not in service. Therefore, it seems likely that converted VLOCs will soon be a memory of the past.

    The investment strategy of converting cheap tanker tonnage to dry bulk carriers seems unlikely to be replicated any time soon. With economic growth and prosperity comes opportunities. The VLOCs were acquired and contracted for conversion during the dry bulk bull run in 2007-2008, but many of the conversions were only complete after the financial crisis put an end to the bull market.

    The ships entered a market, which never recovered to previous highs, but nonetheless remained a profitable one in the initial years. In 2009 and 2010, the Baltic dry index (BDI) averaged 2,616 and 2,758 index points respectively, well below the 6,390 index points seen in 2008, but a substantial margin above the averages from 2011-2019, which never exceeded 1,600 index points.

    Many of the ships are approaching the average age of demolition, and these ships are set to be phased out as soon as the long-term contracts under which they are employed expire. However, new VLOCs and even larger ships, such as the Valemaxes, have already been supplied to the market. For this reason, the scrapping of converted VLOCs will not create a shortage of tonnage in the market.

    Perhaps even the contrary holds true. From June 2017 to April 2020, the Capesize (+100k DWT) fleet grew by 29.6m DWT (9.2%). From 2017 to 2019, seaborne trade of iron ore declined by 17m tonnes (-1.2%)




2020 September 29

13:13 Victor Shitukhin is appointed as Acting Director of its Ship Repair Plant ‘Nerpa’
12:49 Lotos shipyard lays down two self-propelled dredgers
12:11 Bunker prices decrease in the Far East ports of Russia (graph)
11:47 Port of Antwerp focuses heavily on general cargo: search begun for breakbulk candidate for Churchill Dock
11:27 Joint oil spill exercise tests inter-agency response and cooperation amidst COVID-19 pandemic
10:46 New impetus for digitalization of shipping in the COVID-19 pandemic
10:09 IAPH presents guidelines for LNG-powered vessels during port calls
09:54 Oil prices are decreasing
09:35 Port Authority of Singapore holds joint oil spill exercise
09:15 Baltic Dry Index as of September 28
08:58 MABUX: Bunker market this morning, Sept 29

2020 September 28

18:57 Okeanis Eco Tankers announces one year VLCC time charter
18:27 Bumi Armada secures third FPSO project in India
18:07 Wilhelmsen and thyssenkrupp step-up collaboration, establishing 3D printing joint venture targeting the maritime industry
17:59 RF Government to allocate RUB 27.6 billion for construction of two scientific research ships
17:28 Port of Long Beach announces closure of traffic routes leading to the Gerald Desmond Bridge
17:05 Maersk Supply Service and Ørsted to test offshore charging buoy to reduce vessel emissions
17:02 Oboronlogistics completed Northern Delivery programme of 2020
16:56 UTLC ERA JLC and Belintertrans-Germany GmbH open joint end-to-end regular multimodal service from China to Western Europe
16:37 Atommash shipped Reactor Pressure Vessel for Turkey's first nuclear power plant
16:14 The digital transformation is accelerating, and insurers and underwriters must adapt, says IUMI
15:51 Ships of RF Navy's Black Sea Fleet returned to their permanent locations after "Kavkaz-2020" maneuvers
15:29 New railway bridge over Kolar river put into operation in Murmansk Region
15:13 BIMCO to push for international guidelines for ship/shore communication at IMO
14:12 Submersible robot buries power cables for offshore wind farms 5.5 metres below seabed to the north of Maasvlakte
13:53 Moscow Exchange registered debut bond issue by FSUE "Rosmorport"
13:30 Blanket repair begins at Beloomut dam’s second section
13:12 Busan Port Authority concludes an agreement to establish a smart maintenance system for port facility
12:54 Average spot market price for Russian M100 product fell to RUB 11,773 pmt
12:11 Abu Dhabi Ports acquires MICCO to become a leading provider of fully integrated supply chain logistics solutions
11:36 RF Government approves National Programme for Far East Development
11:13 Aker Solutions awarded subsea contract for Breidablikk
10:51 Hornsea Two monopile installation scheduled to start next month
10:21 Shipbuilding, Ship Repair Corporation launches non-self-propelled suction hopper dredger of Project 4395
09:52 Tallink suspends operation of Helsinki-Riga route until end of October
09:30 Tallink changes weekend operating schedule of Tallinn-Helsinki route shuttle vessel Star
09:14 Baltic Dry Index as of September 25
08:48 MABUX: Bunker market this morning, Sept 28

2020 September 27

16:43 Milaha signs key deal with major oilfield services firm
15:31 RINA and SDARI: an innovative step towards 3D ship classification
14:28 Belfast Harbour is hosting an innovative study which could help change the way ports and harbours manage air quality
13:48 ABP invests £10 million to repair Swansea West Pier
12:49 Huntington Ingalls Industries restores drinking water, conducts steam testing during USS George Washington (CVN 73) refueling and complex overhaul
12:03 The Manor Endurance sets sail for her first charter
11:29 NYK and JMU introduce shipbuilding contract that guarantees propulsion in actual sea conditions

2020 September 26

15:52 Port Freeport enters partnership with CEMEX Servicios Logisticos and Union Pacific Railroad
14:32 Coast Guard rescue two mariners from disabled catamaran near Oahu
13:43 NAT orders two -2- Suezmax newbuildings in South Korea
12:38 JAXPORT CEO Green named one of Florida’s top business leaders for third year in a row
12:06 Northwest to Midwest: New rail service builds on NWSA’s intermodal growth
11:02 IUMI: Loss prevention remains a vital element in ensuring the insurability of maritime risk
10:53 Huntington Ingalls Industries breaks ground on unmanned systems center of excellence

2020 September 25

18:07 Tripartite agreement signed on establishing the FSRU terminal in the Bay of Gdansk
17:55 Baltic Fuel Company shipped first batch of bitumen
17:39 Scorpio Bulkers announces purchase of shares by Scorpio Services
17:34 Vessel “Razul Rza” sent to outer waters after the repair works
17:12 Metal Shark debuts 48-meter catamaran expedition vessel and introduces "Metal Shark Yachts" portfolio
16:51 Ningbo Containerized Freight Index rises significantly in September
16:19 OOCL's service update for Trans-Pacific trade
16:16 Representative office of Marinet opened in China