The demand for iron and coal in China is predicted to propel growth in global dry bulk fleet demand over the next five years.

According to Lloyd’s Register, the dry bulk fleet will grow by an average of 9.5% through to the end of 2013 from its current level of 7,839 ships of 432m dwt.

Lloyd’s says the surge in Chinese imports of iron ore and coal will be the primary growth engine for the world’s bulker fleet, offsetting the falloff in grain and agricultural products.

Deliveries of new bulkers will increase 150% on the last five years while the fastest growing segment will be very large ships over 200,000dwt, increasing at 16.8% per annum.

Order books for newbuilds will be static as the large number of ships ordered during 2007 and 2008 are delivered to the fleet.