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Bulk-Shipping Faces ‘Difficult’ 2012 as Global Fleet Expands, U-Ming Says

U-Ming Marine Transport Corp. (2606), the Taiwanese operator of dry-bulk ships, expects 2012 to be a “difficult year” for the market because of the launch of more large ships and higher iron-ore production in China.

“Next year there will be another wave of big ships coming in,” President C.K. Ong said yesterday in Singapore. It is “going to be a difficult year.”

Capesize vessels are already headed for their worst year in more than a decade in 2011 as expansion in the global fleet outpaces Chinese demand for commodity shipments. Iron-ore prices that have doubled since the end of 2008 are also prompting Chinese investment in local mines, paring the country’s reliance on imports.

“We have a pretty tough market ahead of us,” said Dale Ploughman, chief executive officer of Athens-based dry-bulk operator Seanergy Maritime Holdings Corp. (SHIP)

About 46.4 million deadweight tons of capesize ships, enough to carry more than 100,000 tons of commodities, are expected to be delivered in 2012, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker. That’s a 47 percent increase from a projected 31.6 million tons this year, it said.

A total of 232 bulk carriers, equivalent to 17.6 million tons, were ordered in the first eight months of this year, Clarkson data showed. The tally includes 29 capesize ships. Capesize rates have averaged $11,165 a day this year, based on data from the London-based Baltic Exchange.

China, the world’s biggest buyer of iron ore, imported 447.57 million tons of the material in the first eight months, 11 percent more than a year earlier, the General Customs office said on Sept. 24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at kpark3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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