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Maersk, other shipping lines raised 2006 capacity 14%

A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and 407 shipping lines increased their capacity to move containers 14% in 2006, the fastest pace in six years, as trade expanded, data from Containerisation International showed.

Capacity at the world's shipping lines rose to 11.31 million 20-foot containers in 2006, based on numbers posted on Containerisation International's Web site. The capacity increase was the biggest since the industry information provider started compiling the data in July 1999. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and other South Korean shipyards, the world's largest, have received record orders the last three years, prompted by expanded global trade and increased demand to explore and transport oil and gas.
Global trade is forecast to grow 7.6% in 2007, the International Monetary Fund said. „Cargo will grow, but capacity will grow a bit faster,” this year, said Peter Hilton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Credit Suisse Group. „There's a lot of talk about pushing rates up. Supply and demand imbalance makes that a bit questionable.” A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and other sea carriers have been charging less to move cargo since the second half of 2005 as a record number of new vessels are delivered. About 38% of the current container ship fleet is on order, according to Containerisation International. Shipyards in South Korea, which won almost half of the global orders last year, has a record €68 billion ($90.3 billion) worth of vessels on backlog.

Shipping lines in Europe added greater capacity than rivals in Asia as they started operations of more vessels that can carry over 8,000 containers each. Maersk currently operates the world's biggest ship that can carry at least 11,000 containers. Capacity at Maersk, the world's biggest shipping line, increased 56% to 1.57 million boxes after purchasing Royal P&O Nedlloyd NV in May 2005, according to Containerisation International. Mediterranean Shipping, the world's second-largest operator of container ships, added 32% more capacity to 1.02 million containers last year. Hapag-Lloyd AG doubled its capacity to 454,526 containers after the German company acquired CP Ships in 2005.

Capacity at China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co.'s container shipping unit, Cosco Container Lines Ltd., increased 26% last year to 390,354 boxes, overtaking Evergreen Marine Corp. To become Asia's biggest container shipping line, based on Containerisation International's data. Taipei-based Evergreen's capacity increased 9% to 377,334 boxes. China Shipping Container Lines Co.'s fleet size rose 15% to 387,168 boxes last year as South Korea's biggest shipping line Hanjin Shipping Co. increased 8.7% to 337,378 containers.
Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan's largest shipping line, expanded its capability 11% to 283,109 last year. Neptune Orient Lines Ltd.'s container unit increased its capacity by 5.9% to 342,461 boxes. Shares of Hanjin Shipping fell 1.3% to 26,150 won in Seoul. Neptune Orient shares rose 4.8% in Singapore to S$2.19, the highest closing price in almost three months. Shares of China Cosco Holdings Co., which operates Cosco Container, gained 3.2% to a record HK$5.46 in Hong Kong. (Bloomberg)