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The growth of the global fleet by the mid of the century will track the changes in trade, driven mostly by the solid growth in container shipping and seaborne gas trade, according to DNV GL’s Maritime Forecast to 2050.
Measured by deadweight tonnage, the container shipping and gas fleets are expected to see a rise of almost 150 percent by 2050.
The crude oil fleet will decline by approximately 20 pct by 2050, with the decline beginning after 2030. The product tankers fleet is projected to remain stable, while the bulk segment will experience a moderate growth of about 50 pct.
For other cargo vessels, DNV GL expects tonnage to double by 2050.
Overall the demand for seaborne transport is forecast to increase by 60 percent by 2050, with the pace of growth being highest up to 2030, and with notable differences between the various shipping segments.
“We forecast that trade measured as tonne-miles will experience 2.2 pct annual growth over the period 2015– 2030 and 0.6 pct per year thereafter, driven mostly by non-energy commodities,” the report reads.
“Trade in individual energy commodities will decline as their use declines: coal first, then crude oil, thereafter oil products. Despite projected growth in oil imports in some regions, global seaborne crude oil and oil products trade will reach peak volumes before 2030. Natural gas – as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) – will experience sustained growth, as gas takes over as the largest energy source.”
DNV GL forecasts that global gas consumption will decline after 2035, but growth in seaborne gas trade will be sustained as demand shifts to areas with less domestic gas and many new sources of unconventional gas are not connectable by pipelines.
Container growth will experience the strongest growth of all segments, as measured by tonne-miles; 3.2 pct/yr on average to 2030, driven by strong demand for consumer goods and continued containerization. It will thereafter decline to average 2.1 pct/yr, the report shows.
Over the entire forecasting period to 2050, annual growth will average 2.6 pct for container tonne-miles and 2.4 pct for global GDP; so, the container trade multiplier (trade growth relative to GDP growth) will average 1.1.
Bulk commodities will see average growth of 1.8 pct/yr in tonne-miles to 2030, and 0.6 pct/yr thereafter, driven by strong increases in grain, moderate rises in ore and other minor bulk, and a decline in coal.
“We predict that declining offshore oil and gas activity, and decreasing initiation of new fields, will lead eventually to less offshore-related shipping activity, though fast growth in offshore wind will partly mitigate the reduction. Geographically, seaborne trade growth will be strongest in the Asian regions,” DNV GL said.
“We expect gas, non-coal bulk, and container trades to grow across most regions, with above-average growth rates in China, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Longer term, we see the level of oil exports from the Middle East being maintained, but declining in most other regions. Coal trade will reduce across all regions after 2030.”