Maersk and MSC to suspend AE2 Asia-North Europe loop for the second time

Alliance partners Maersk and MSC are to “temporarily suspend” their AE2/Swan Asia-North Europe loop from the end of the month until mid-November, removing up to 20,000 teu a week from the trade.

Weakening demand and plummeting freight rates have so far obliged Asia-North Europe carriers to blank two-thirds more sailings than during the same period of last year, and now the 2M alliance is to suspend the loop for the second consecutive year.

Moreover, Maersk said it would also “balance its network to match reduced market demand for the upcoming [Chinese factory shutdown] Golden Week” and withdraw its AE7, MSC’s Condor, headhaul string in week 41, thus removing around another 17,000 teu of capacity from the market that week.

MSC said the AE2/Swan suspension would “help us to match capacity with the expected weaker demand for shipping services”, and in a customer advisory, Maersk said the  service would resume “in line with demand pickup”, suggesting that the suspension could be extended if demand on the route continued to be soft.

The 2M adopted a similar strategy last year, suspending the AE2/Swan from September to December, rather than using the blanked voyage tool favoured by the Ocean and THE alliances. It  said mothballing loops was “a better option for shippers”.

However last year rival carriers took commercial advantage of the service suspension. Indeed, one rival carrier source told The Loadstar the 2M suspension was the “best news we have had in a long time”.

This year, according to Alphaliner data, a total of 42 Asia-North Europe headhaul sailings were blanked in the first three quarters, compared with just 16  in the first nine months of 2018.

Also, at the end of last month, HMM terminated its AEX service, which it operated separately to its slot charter arrangement with the 2M. This removed some 4,800 teu of weekly capacity from the trade, albeit that the South Korean carrier replaced its ‘independent’ service with a slot charter deal with THE Alliance ahead of it joining the vessel sharing group as a full member in April next year.

Until now, the 2M partners have not voided any sailings, despite the peak season proving to be a damp squib and spot rates having slumped to $757 per teu as of last week, according to the reading of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) – a startling 19% below the level of a year ago and an alarming 24% drop from early January.

The planned six-week suspension of the AE2/Swan loop will see 12 17,800-20,500 teu vessels idled.

Source: The Loadstar

MSC Gulson

MSC unveils its newest box ship MSC Gulson

MSC has revised the official capacity of its new ULCV, MSC Gulsun, by an additional 805 teu, to 23,765 teu, making it more than 2,000 teu larger than the biggest ships operated by its competitors.

The liner said the new class of vessel had “been designed with a wide range of environmental, efficiency, stability and safety matters in mind”.

The MSC Gulson, it claims, features a “remarkable approach to energy efficiency” via bow design and minimised wind resistance.

Part of a series of eleven vessels, it is one of six being built by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) in South Korea, with the other five constructed at compatriot Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, the MSC Gulsuncompleted its maiden voyage from Asia to North Europe this week.

Although the same length as the 21,413 teu OOCL Hong Kong-series of ULCVs, at 399 metres, the scrubber-fitted MSC Gulson has a beam 2.7 metres wider, at 61.5 metres, enabling an extra row of containers and making 24 rows across the weather deck.

With an optimum load of light medium and heavy boxes, the MSC Gulson would need to be stowed 13 containers high on deck to achieve the 23,765 teu intake, but this is unlikely unless the vessel is topped up with empty containers for repatriation on the backhaul Asia-North Europe service.

Moreover, the extra row across its beam will exceed the outreach capabilities at some ports on its rotation. Indeed, Alphaliner noted that at the MSC Gulson’s first call, at Bremerhaven earlier in the week, the containers to be discharged at the German port were stowed only 23 across, due to the restricted reach of the terminal’s shore cranes.

There are now around 50 ULCVs of 20,000 teu or more operated by ocean carriers, all of which are deployed on Asia-North Europe, with new deliveries expected to double that number by the end of next year. South Korean carrier HMM, which will join THE Alliance next April, has an orderbook of twelve 23,000 teu scrubber-fitted vessels and Taiwanese Evergreen has just disclosed its intention to order up to eleven 23,000 teu newbuilds.

Both carriers have, like MSC, opted for scrubbers to be fitted on the new vessels to enable the continued burning of HFO (heavy fuel oil) after IMO 2020. Depending on the premium payable for low-sulphur compliant fuel after 1 January, it has been calculated that scrubbers could potentially save container lines using the exhaust gas cleaning technology some $2m per Asia-North Europe roundtrip voyage.

Source: The Loadstar

Image from NewsVideo.SU

one belt one road

RZD expands China-Europe rail freight services with new routes

RZD have begun a new container service, with a new connection between China and Germany.

Connecting Yantai and Duisburg, the service initially will operate on a limited schedule, but RZD chief executive Vyacheslav Valentik expects it to become regular by the start of Q4.

“Our cooperation with Yantai station is developing rapidly – just a month ago we launched a service to Moscow, and today we present a transit route to Germany,” he said.

“There is no doubting its successful development… Shandong ranks third in the GDP ranking of provinces in China. It is an industrial region with a high level of production and consumption, which gives us a good chance to work out the issue of reverse loading of transit trains.”

The inaugural service arrived in the German city, after a 19-day transit, on 14 August, carrying auto parts, electrical components and household products.

The carrier said the service was available to a “wide range” of shippers, with further new routes due this month: “The service will be launched on the new route from Jinan City, Shandong Province to Budapest,” it said.

“Now, RZD Logistics has container trains from various cities of the Shandong province to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm, Minsk and Duisburg.”

The operator has undergone a rash of expansion in recent months, last month launching a service to ship boxes from Korea to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The decision to run the new link followed a trial in June from South Korea’s container hub of Pusan to the Polish rail terminal at Brzeg Dolny.

“Rail delivery is faster than deepsea transport and we offer our clients in the republic of Korea the chance to assess the economical efficiency of the service,” said Mr Valentik. “And the more cargo transported by Trans-Siberian land bridge, the more affordable the service is.”

Also last month, RZD and subsidiary Far East Land Bridge rolled out a container route between Moscow and Yantai.

Sales director at RZD Olga Stepanova said: “We try to find solutions that will meet the needs of our customers. At Yantai it is convenient to consolidate cargo from all over Shandong province, one of the most industrialised in China.

“It is also successfully connected to the sea terminal, with which we also plan to group and ship to Russia and Europe from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Source: The Loadstar

red cross

Carriers to fine rogue shippers for misdeclared goods in containers

Carriers are cracking down on rogue shippers by threatening significant financial penalties for misdeclared shipments, following a series of vessel fires.

Evergreen was first out of the gates announcing fines, ranging from $4,000 to $35,000, for misdeclarations (see below), with Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL following suit.

Hapag-Lloyd, which suffered as misdeclared goods caused a high-profile fire aboard its vessel Yantian Express earlier this year, said it would impose a $15,000 fine per misdeclared box, and OOCL has announced enhanced checks and a hazardous cargo misdeclaration fee.

Hong Kong-headquartered OOCL said: “We are aware that there has been an increasing number of marine incidents being reported in 2019, many of which were suspected of being caused by potentially undeclared and/or misdeclared hazardous cargo.

“Any inconsistencies between the declared cargo in the documents and what is physically inside the container will result in a hazardous cargo misdeclaration fee.”

The fee payable will depend on the extent of any disparity, with containers potentially being pulled out of service and put on hold if penalties are applicable.

The carrier said it would also strengthen its inspection policy through additional verification prior to loading by selective or random inspections on DG and potential DG cargo.

“It is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the carriage of goods to ensure all hazardous cargo are properly declared and handled according to the IMDG regulations,” it added.

Between 5% and 10% of containership cargo is declared as dangerous goods, but the extent of misdeclaring of goods is impossible to tell.

Mr Storrs-Fox said: “A key element of the campaign is to identify levers – both sticks and carrots – that are available to improve a safety culture in the unitised supply chain, including considering unintended consequences inherent in trading arrangements or fiscal/security interventions and the possibilities presented by technological innovation.

“Penalising shippers where deficiencies are found should be applauded and government enforcement agencies are encouraged to take appropriate action under national or international regulations to deter poor practices further.”

Source: The Loadstar

low tariffs after brexit

Post-Brexit freeport ‘gateway to prosperity’ plan comes under fire

Questions continue to be raised over the announcement that the UK government intends to establish a series of freeports across the country after Brexit.

Trade secretary Liz Truss called on airports and ports to bid for the scheme, saying: “Freedoms transformed London’s Docklands in the 1980s, and Freeports will do the same for towns and cities across the UK.

Claims yesterday by prime minister Boris Johnson that the UK would become a “world leader” on the freeport scene have also been questioned by industry experts.

Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals, Neil Davidson, said it made a freeport sound like a “panacea” for business.

“From what I can tell, no real, proper research has been conducted and there seems to be no idea what markets or sectors the scheme intends to target,” he said.

“Looking at it from a common sense point of view, and from the market perspective, I cannot see it working – at least not without more details.”

Up to 10 freeports are planned, with an advisory panel comprising business owners, economists, ministers and technology experts making the selections.

In the 1990s, the UK had a series of freeports operating and, while one source claimed these had “failed”, Mr Davidson was more complimentary.

“To say they failed is a bit harsh; they had a very specific purpose – for example at Tilbury the purpose was to provide a way around a quota that existed for imports of North American plywood,” he said.

“Shippers’ costs were climbing, and the freeports allowed them to import in bulk and hold and release the wood as and when needed ,without exceeding the quota.

“These freeports worked because they targeted a very specific market and had very specific needs and advantages – those announced by the government last week don’t point to any market.”

As a result, Mr Davidson said he struggled to see the upside, noting that while tax benefits were the main draw, they were also “expected” and won’t on their own make a freeport competitive.

He also pointed to the high cost of labour, land, and utilities as negatives against the UK’s attractiveness.

“Freeports thrive on being cheap to operate, so knowing which ports and the regions the UK intends to compete against is vital for any gateway bidding for this,” Mr Davidson added.

“If it’s Jebel Ali, the cost of labour there is far lower, and if the UK is targeting EU markets, Tangier is a far more cost-effective option. On top of this, if we look at the ports being put forward, some are the ones with the weakest shipping connectivity.”

The decision to pursue the freeports initiative appears driven by the UK’s new prime minister desire to stick to the latest Brexit deadline, and Ms Truss added: “We will have a truly independent trade policy after we leave the EU on 31 October 31.

“I look forward to working with the Freeports Advisory Panel to create the world’s most advanced freeport model and launch the new ports as soon as possible.”

Mayor of Tees Valley, set to bid for the scheme, Ben Houchen has championed freeports and welcomed the initiative.

“Teesport played a crucial role in this nation’s historic trading past, and is key to our great trading future,” he said. “Creating a freeport right here would turbocharge jobs and growth, bringing investment into the region and making us a global hub of enterprise and innovation.”

Source: The Loadstar

maersk halifax

Maersk Honam rebuilt and renamed after fire

Seventeen months after a devastating fire which resulted in the loss of 5 lives, Maersk is set to send the 15,282 teu boxship Maersk Honam back on active duty.

The owner decided to reuse the stern section in a new ship, to be constructed at a South Korean shipyard. The damaged bow section and the accommodations block were removed at Dubai Drydocks for scrapping. The stern section was taken from Jebel Ali to Geoje aboard a semi-submersible ship.

She retains the same IMO number, but she now carries a new name – Maersk Halifax

Source: Splash 247 / Maritime Executive

Southampton freight terminal expansion

Independent Container Line moves UK call from Liverpool to Southampton

Niche transatlantic carrier Independent Container Line (ICL) is to move its UK call from Liverpool to Southampton to improve schedule reliability.

The US-headquartered, privately-owned shipping line has been serving Liverpool for the past 20 years, calling at the Mersey port along with Antwerp in a two-port North European hub strategy.

However, ICL claims deteriorating weather conditions in the North Atlantic have delayed its fleet of 2,500-3,000 teu ships and compelled the carrier to switch its UK call to a southern port.

“Each winter is bringing more weather challenges in the North Atlantic and keeping schedule becomes more difficult. This change will allow us to get back to 100% reliability year-round, which is a core pillar of our service offering,” it said.

The weekly call at Southampton will shift to a Thursday pm arrival for a Friday am departure, with the first ICL vessel at the DP World Southampton facility the eastbound call of the geared 2,546 teu Independent Spirit on 25 July.

In the US, ICL calls at the privately-owned Penn Terminal in Chester, Pennsylvania, and at Wilmington, North Carolina.

“We have planned and coordinated various intermodal options that will allow your cargo to be picked up and delivered,” said ICL in a customer advisory, adding that its representatives would “be in touch” to ensure a “seamless transition” to Southampton.

The advisory, signed by managing partners and founders John Kirkland and Dale Ross, said the line’s UK headquarters would remain in Liverpool.

The loss of one of its oldest customers is a blow to the port of Liverpool, which in April celebrated winning a new WEC Lines service to Portugal, making the Dutch carrier its fourth liner capture this year.

They included Cosco’s slot share on subsidiary OOCL’s transatlantic service in April and the big one – the 2M’s TA4 transatlantic loop, for which Maersk and MSC agreed a permanent switch from Felixstowe in early January.

ICL’s USP has been the service speed of its ships, which are capable of 22 knots, but if the carrier is still unable to keep to advertised schedules then it probably all comes down to price. With a high unit cost, compared with its rivals, it would have struggled to be competitive at Liverpool.

According to Alphaliner data, ICL, with a capacity of 11,291 teu on its four chartered-in ships, is the world’s 70th-largest carrier.

Source: The Loadstar

container port

Bunker market not ready for IMO 2020

The bunker market is far from ready for the substantial switch in demand to low-sulphur fuel, when the IMO’s 0.5% cap comes into force on 1 January next year, according to the Marine Bunker Exchange (MABUX). 

In an article published by international shipping association BIMCO, the bunker exchange cautions that “shipowners are readybut the bunker market is not” –adding that reports from oil majors regarding the delivery of LSFO (low-sulphur fuel oil) “are concerning”. 

MABUX estimates that the global shipping fleet consumes some 5.3m barrels a day, with about 4m of these being non-compliant after the new IMO regulations kick in. 

Given that the majority of demand is expected to shift to LSFO to comply with IMO 2020, it calculates that the market for some 3m barrels will effectively “disappear overnight”. 

Moreover, the premium for LSFO remains unclear, meaning ship operators cannot properly budget for the increase in their fuel costs, or for that matter advise clients how much extra they expect them to pay. 

“The 0.5% fuel is not physically in the market right now… we have only futures with delivery time in December 2019,” said Sergey Ivanov, director at MABUX.

We do not have all the answers as to when, where and how much, making it difficult to forecast what the exact margin will be between high-sulphur fuel oil (HFO) and LSFO,” he said. 

“Right now, we see that marine gas oil trades at a premium of about $250 per ton more than HFO, but the forward curve forecast is that it may rise to about $380 per ton at the beginning of 2020,” said Mr Ivanov. 

MABUX understands, from its discussions with the main global bunker suppliers, that the first regular deliveries of the maximum 0.5% compliant fuel to bunker ports around the world is expected some time in the third quarter. 

Operators with ships that do not have scrubbers installed, which enable vessels fitted with the exhaust gas cleaning systems to continue to burn HFO, will need to start cleaning their tanks and replenishing with LSFO several weeks before the IMO 2020 regulations come into force. 

And in discussions with the oil bunker suppliers, a confusing outlook has emerged. 

One oil major surveyed by MABUX said it would be delivering LSFO to 18 ports in the world, including main hubs, and would continue to deliver HFO to 15 ports. Another said it would only be delivering LSFO to seven ports, for now. 

“This picture suggests the question of availability of very low-sulphur fuel is critical at this point. No one is sure that there will be enough LSFO in all the main ports in the world,” said Mr Ivanov. 

“In our view, shipowners are ready. Many are in a position now where they can say ‘give me compliant fuel and I will adjust my power system, I will train my crew and start using it’.

“But they need the compliant fuel and they cannot get that now. They do not currently have much choice. Many of them are ready, but the bunker market is not,” he warned.

Source: The Loadstar

air freight

Air cargo carriers develop online distribution

After years of criticism that cargo airlines were failing to develop new distribution channels – the increase in digitisation and online sales means online distribution is on the increase. 

Air France-KLM Cargo has signed up to Freightos’s air freight WebCargo platform, which claims to be the world’s largest. It allows AF-KLM customers to view live rates, assess capacity availability and secure bookings on specific flights in real-time, following a pilot conducted with the carrier and Panalpina. While the platform is proving successful they are also researching others. 

Manel Galindo, chief executive of WebCargo, said the platform was used by more than 1,400 forwarders, with market pricing from more than 300 airlines. It also can provide airlines with API capability, which some other platform do not offer. It also offers an internal platform that can be used to manage offline rates, manage quoting and more. Freightos added that “real-time e-bookings would be launched in a number of countries and gradually expanded”. 

A spokesperson for cargo.one said it was an open platform for every cargo airline globally”, with a 12-week integration period. She added: “Because cargo.one is free of charge to any size freight forwarder, we have become a significant distribution channel for our partner airlines. We also offer a variety of integration methods and have successfully integrated with multiple established infrastructures. All our integration methods, whether based on legacy infrastructures or APIs, are designed to deliver the same outstanding digital user experience. 

Meanwhile, Etihad Cargo looks as if it could be next to launch a new distribution channel, following the success of its digitisation programme. 

It said it was “successfully completing trials for another major distribution channel, using automated Freight Forwarder Messaging to instantly allow bookings to be made and confirmed. These pilots were with DHL Express and DB Schenker, completed successfully in March and are in the process of being progressively rolled out across their global operations as well as to other key forwarder customers. 

Etihad last year completed its migration to IBS iCargo’s system, and launched its own online booking portal. It claims to make more sales through this channel than any other cargo airline: 16.4% of its monthly bookings coming through the platform in March. It said it had more than 6,000 registered users making online bookings every month, and volumes sold on the channel are increasing steadily. 

The new distribution channel, using API and web services, will launch by the end of the second quarter. 

“Within such a short period of time we have gone from being a very conventional air cargo operator to being the most digitised air cargo carrier of our size globally,” said Rory Fidler, head of technology and innovation. “As we move forward, we will continue to invest in technology and seek to put ourselves at the forefront of the industry’s drive for digitalisation”. 

Source: The Loadstar

air pollution

Vessel emissions won’t be cut by sailing slower

Policy director of the UK Chamber of Shipping Anna Ziou has slammed French proposals to impose speed limits as a way to cut shipping emissions.

She claims it would give a “false impression” of the industry taking action. 

Ms Ziou’s objection follows an outcry from container lines following the French IMO delegation’s proposals becoming public last month. 

“To achieve a 50% cut in emissions, the shipping industry needs continued investment in green technologies that will allow ships to conduct their business through a range of low-carbon fuels, such as battery power, hydrogen fuel cells or even wind power,” said Ms Ziou. 

“Shipowners have already limited speeds considerably in the past decade and while these proposals are well-intentioned, slow-steaming as a low-carbon [plan] is just not good enough. 

“It will give a false impression that the industry is taking action, when in reality it will deliver no meaningful reduction in emissions, and the scale of ambition required for the industry to meet the 50% target should not be underestimated.” 

Ms Ziou noted that if selected, the plan could penalise companies developing and installing low-carbon technologies and could discourage “meaningful” attempts at cutting emissions. 

At best, she claimed, speed limits would delay any form of transition to low-carbon fuels and in so doing would store up greater costs for the industry. 

She added: “Speed reduction could result in supply chains using alternative modes of transport, such as road haulage, which would increase overall emissions. 

“In addition, ships may call at certain ports that are tidally constrained where a delay of just one hour could result in a knock-on delay of 12 hours to the vessel as it awaits the next tide, unnecessarily creating further emissions during the additional waiting time.” 

Despite the objections, it seems there is mounting support for the introduction of speed limits after chief executives from more than 100 shipping companies described climate change as “possibly the greatest challenge of our time” in a recent open letter to IMO member states. 

Source: The Loadstar