Growing shipping fleets and rising LNG trade is driving demand for tug newbuildings
Tug builders are experiencing strong demand for newbuildings with owners ordering new tugs to support LNG projects and port expansions.
Owners are contracting more tugs to meet higher power requirements for assisting ultra-large container ships into more global ports. One owner has ordered multiple tug newbuildings in preparation for new gas import and export facilities opening in Canada, Latin America and Africa.
According to BRL Shipping Consultants’ data, the global orderbook for tugs of more than 20 m in overall length has risen to 341 at the end of Q2 2021, compared with 318 for end of the previous quarter. This is up from 333 tug newbuildings on the orderbook at the end of 2020 and up from 313 year-on-year.
Forty-four tugs of over 20 m were ordered at shipyards worldwide in Q2 2021, up from 29 in the previous quarter and 37 ordered in Q2 2020. From this data, it is clear China, Indonesia and Turkey are key tugbuilding nations. Added to this is Damen’s building programme in Vietnam for its own stock.
Sanmar received large orders from HaiSea Marine Services for a series of escort and harbour tugs to support LNG carriers loading at a new production centre in western Canada. These will be electric-powered and LNG-fuelled to reduce emissions.
Smit Lamnalco placed an order with Uzmar this year for three escort tugs to support gas carriers loading from the Coral South LNG export facility off Mozambique.
A string of newbuilding orders continues to flow into Indonesian shipyards from local owners renewing and expanding their fleets.
There is a similar demand in China for newbuildings from domestic shipyards as ports are expanded for further export growth.
Rising newbuilding orders over the last few quarters has led to more deliveries of harbour tugs in Q2 2021. From available data, 65 tugs were delivered in Q2 2021, up from 50 in the previous quarter and 58 in Q2 2020.
This data includes inland towboats and tugboats in the US, which are not included in the newbuilding data. US owners taking delivery of new vessels from domestic shipyards in Q2 2021 included Cooper Marine, Crowley, Florida Marine Transporters, Foss, Ingram, Kirby, Parker Towage and Vane Brothers.
Indonesia and China are also major recipients of new harbour tugs from domestic shipyards. This data shows Damen, Med Marine, Sanmar and Uzmar are the main tug builders outside of these nations. They are producing a stream of new tugs for owners worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
Owners across Europe, including those headquartered in Italy, Spain and Germany have expanded their fleets with new tugs from shipyards.
Scandinavian owners were active in Q2 2021 adding new tugs to their fleets, many being ice-class for year-round service.
Deliveries are expected to continue to rise over the next six months based on the newbuilding contracting levels. Many tug builders have full orderbooks to the end of this year and some well into 2022.
For owners needing a quick delivery, there will still be tugs built for shipyard stock to purchase. The next phase of newbuilding deliveries could be for tugs to meet IMO Tier III emissions requirements, and some could feature electric propulsion.
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