Japan’s Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding on 7 September announced that it had received orders for three 87,000 dwt post-Panamax bulk carriers.
Delivery will be in late 2020, according to the company, but prices and customers were not disclosed.
Formerly known as Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, the shipbuilder rebranded earlier this year after a reorganisation that created a holding company for various business units.
Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding said the vessels would be built according to its eco-friendly Neo 87BC ship design.
In compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s forthcoming emissions limit of 0.5%, the engines can run on low-sulphur fuel oil and scrubbers can be installed on board, the company said.
Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding is collaborating with compatriot rival Tsuneishi Shipbuilding to attract more ship orders, as Japanese shipbuilders face keen competition from Chinese yards for bulkers.
The latest orders show mounting investment appetite in bulk carrier newbuildings, contrasting sharply with that of 2016, when historically low charter rates discouraged such orders.
While healthy demand for raw materials and grains in China has speeded up the dry bulk shipping market’s recovery from historical lows in 2016, both the recovery and stricter environmental regulations have sparked a resurgence in new vessel orders.
The rising number of newbuildings, coupled with low scrapping, is fuelling concern. In a recent report, BIMCO noted that, while only 9.2 million dwt of bulk carrier newbuildings were ordered from January to April, contracting was expected to increase as charter rates remain healthy.
“Dry bulk demolition during the first four months was down by 73% compared with last year. All but a few of the new orders are set for delivery in 2020. But in turn, this also means that there is no more room left for orders to be placed before the balance potentially tilts,” BIMCO said.
The US-China trade dispute presents additional uncertainties. While China appears set to boost its supply of imported soyabeans from Brazil, the focus has shifted to ascertaining where the United States will export its supply of the product.