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We are nearing the end of 2021, which will go down in the history of shipping as one of the most turbulent, challenging, and stressful years ever, thanks to sky-high rates and equipment issues. Now the question is, would this hold true in 2022 as well?
There are numerous unknowns going into 2022, and forecasting freight levels is extremely difficult. However, we predict that a healthy freight market will exist for at least the first half of 2022, based on carrier projections and future expectations from big importers.
Even if market conditions improve substantially and space becomes abundant, enhanced carrier discipline in terms of space control, as demonstrated by blank sailings, will be here to stay. This worked wonderfully for carriers prior to the epidemic, and there are just a few large actors left.
Ocean carriers placed new contracts for 1.7 million TEUs of container fleet capacity in the first half of 2021. The additional orders for 2021 raise the total number of vessels on order to 17.4 percent of the in-service fleet, the highest percentage since 2016. In terms of capacity, an additional 4.17 million TEUs will be delivered to the 24 million TEUs now in service over the next couple of years.
Insight view; The majority of the vessels will not be delivered until late 2022, with the majority of new vessel deliveries occurring in 2023. Overall, rate levels are expected to continue high for the first half of 2022, with the second half being difficult to predict at this time according to how demand and inflation play out.