The horror was great not only among marine conservationists when the Brazilian government announced permission to sink a warship in early February. Shortly thereafter, the 266 meter long "São Paulo" sank in Brazilian waters. It is now at a depth of 5000 meters on the seabed.
No one knows exactly what environmental damage the shipwreck, contaminated with asbestos and other pollutants, will do. The drastic example of the "São Paulo" shows a dilemma in global shipping: There is a lack of capacity for the environmentally friendly disposal of old vessels.
Bottlenecks prevail, especially with freighters. These are in use for two to three decades, then they are usually over. Most ship breaking yards are currently in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan or India. In Europe, ships are scrapped in Turkey and recently also in Denmark.
However, the shipyards in Asia in particular hardly operate according to western standards when it comes to the recycling and disposal of scrap, electrical cables or other ship materials. Because of the bad working conditions, employees keep dying in their dangerous jobs.
In order to prevent this, the European Union has issued extensive requirements for shipping companies in its member countries, which criteria must be observed when scrapping. According to an EU list, 46 shipyards worldwide are eligible.
However, industry experts consider this figure to be too high. In Germany, the transposition of the EU rules into national law is still missing. So far, only a few shipping companies like Hapag-Lloyd have voluntarily adhered to the regulations.
The need to take ships out of liner service and scrap them will increase in the coming years. The average age of the entire global merchant fleet is almost 22 years.
In addition, shipping companies such as the Danish Maersk, the French CMA, the Swiss MSC or Hapag-Lloyd have used their high billion euro profits from the Corona years and ordered numerous new ships.
As the British ship broker Clarksons Platou reports, the companies ordered another 23 large container ships from the beginning to the middle of February this year alone. With a market share of 47 percent in 2022, China's state-owned shipyard companies will dominate construction, far ahead of South Korea and Japan.
These modern machine-powered ships will replace old heavy oil-powered freighters. Then it will be even more difficult to find suitable shipyards for scrapping.
The law firm Watson Farley, which specializes in the subject
According to the shipping file Vessels Value, 14 container ships, ten cargo ships and six tank ships were handed over for scrapping in the first two months of this year. In previous years, on the other hand, there were only a few orders for scrapping because the shipowners sent every roadworthy freighter on a long journey during the Corona period.
"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.