Shipping companies are set to increase investment into ships capable of carrying 10,000-plus twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of containers in the coming years.

“Economies of scale have driven a change in ship sizes,” Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah, vice-chairman at DP World told delegates at Marine Money’s Gulf Shipping conference in Dubai.

He said that the dynamics of the shipping industry is changing, with shipping companies keen to overcome the problems of recession and low GDP, particularly in the developed world, by moving more goods at once in larger mega-ships.

The growth in the size of ships will also affect how ports expand and develop their infrastructure, says Bin Thaniah.

He adds that due to the “centre of gravity shifting from east to west”, shipping companies will need to focus their business on trade flows between emerging markets.

He cited statistics that suggest global demand for container cargo will be 208 million TEU by 2015. This is a 6.2 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2007 to 2015.

Emerging markets such as Africa will see the biggest growth by 2015. Intra-Africa container trade will grow by 11.3 per cent, while container trade between Africa and Asia will grow by 10.2 per cent.