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Containersed rail freight through Central Asia soared 75pc in 2017

PostTime:2018-02-13 10:01:49 View:10

WITH demand continuing to strengthen across Central Asia and along the China Railway Express network, containers travelling on routes through Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan surged 75 per cent in 2017 compared with the previous year. A total of 175,000 TEU were handled last year by the Eurasia alliance of United Transport and Logistics Company (UTLC) that comprises national operators Russian Railways, the National Union Belarusian Railway, and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy. UTLC president Alexey Grom said the strong growth of 2017 had enabled the company to make "even more ambitious" plans for the next few years, although he never spelled them out. "The result we reached at the end of the year set a new record for the amount of transit trains in the infrastructure of the track. The plan to reach a TEU volume of 1 million are without change," he said in a statement, according to IHS Media. One of the problems being faced by shippers using rail to send their cargo from China to Europe via Kazakhstan or Russia is a lack of capacity at peak periods. The rail routes are alternatives to air freight and trains which are typically 80 wagons long. But with airline capacity under pressure from rising demand, shippers are increasingly shifting cargo to the rails and those wagons are being quickly filled. UTLC has tried to address this in its three territories with the deployment of the "XL train". During 2017, 115 trains were organised that were 100 wagons long, which enables a better use of equipment and reduces cost and delays. This was helped by new technology partnerships that Mr Grom said enabled the alliance members to make their services more accessible for customers and competitive for shippers. The growth in containers through Central Asia is hardly surprising as the countries straddle the China Railway Express network that has become embedded in the supply chains of shippers over the past two years. China-Europe rail now connects 36 Chinese cities and 38 European destinations, with the number of weekly block trains expanding from 10 to 12 two years ago to 54 trains in 25 services. Westbound service speed is now 12 to 15 days from original transit of 25 days, and container volume is expected to grow 15 per cent per year for the next 10 years to 636,000 TEU by 2027. China's state media has reported that freight rates on the China Railway Express have fallen by 40 per cent since the services began in 2011, but forwarders and shippers using the route say prices have risen with demand. The rate per FEU weighing about 9,600 kilogrammes is between US$6,000 and $9,000 terminal to terminal. Even though the rates are well above ocean, they are nowhere near shipping by air. "It is a super alternative to air freight," said a German wholesale shipper. "And it is very helpful to be at final destination in Europe in less than three weeks. We will use this option, but it will really be an option used for things that are running late late."  

IMO plans to ban non-compliant fuel on board ships in 2020

PostTime:2018-02-13 10:00:17 View:11

THE International Maritime Organization's (IMO) subcommittee on pollution prevention and response has proposed to go ahead with the ban on the transport of non-compliant low-sulfur fuel on board ships when the 0.5 per cent low sulfur limit enters force in 2020. To ensure consistent implementation of the IMO's low-sulfur regulation, the subcommittee which met in London last week, also agreed to draft amendments to the MARPOL (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) convention's Annex VI to impose the transport prohibition on fuel with a sulfur content of more than 0.5 per cent. An exception would be made for ships fitted with an approved technology to meet the 0.5 per cent sulfur content limit, such as scrubbers. Another option is using liquefied natural gas to power ships' engines. This rule will be in addition to the existing requirement for ships to burn fuel with sulfur content not exceeding 0.1 per cent in the so-called Emission Control Areas (ECAs), which started in 2015, American Shipper reported. The IMO subcommittee has forwarded the proposed draft amendments to the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) meeting in April, for "urgent consideration". Once approved, the draft amendments could be adopted at MEPC 73 (October 2018) and enter into force on March 1, 2020 (just two months after the 0.50 per cent limit comes into effect), the IMO said. The 2020 non-compliant fuel ban has been backed by a large swathe of the maritime industry and environmental groups including BIMCO, World Shipping Council, Clean Shipping Coalition, International Chamber of Shipping, Intertanko, International Parcel Tankers Association, Cruise Lines International Association, Pacific Environment, Friends of the Earth and WWF. While the organisations realise the 2020 sulfur cap will increase ship operating costs, they said it's more important for governments to enforce the cap for the sake of environmental and health benefits that will be achieved. In addition, they warned that lack of enforcement will "lead to serious market distortion and unfair competition" for those ship operators that do comply.

US box imports to grow 4.9pc in first half, says Global Port Tracker

PostTime:2018-02-13 09:59:24 View:10

RETAIL imports through major US ports are expected to grow 4.9 per cent year on year in the first half, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF). "We're forecasting significant sales growth this year and that means retailers will have to import more merchandise to meet consumer demand," said NRF vice president Jonathan Gold. "With the benefits of pro-growth tax reform coming on top of solid fundamentals like higher employment and improved confidence, we expect a good year ahead," he said. The import projection comes a day after NRF forecast that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 per cent over 2017's US$3.53 trillion. Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.72 million TEU in December, the latest month for which actual results are available. With most holiday merchandise already in the country by then, the number was down 2.1 per cent from November. The total for 2017 was 20.5 million TEU, topping 2016's record 19.1 million TEU by 7.6 per cent. January was estimated at 1.77 million TEU, up 4.1 per cent year on year. February is forecast at 1.67 million TEU, up 14.8 per cent; March at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.1 per cent; April at 1.71 million TEU, up 4.8 per cent; May at 1.8 million TEU, up 2.8 per cent and June at 1.8 million TEU, up 4.9 per cent. The February and March percentages are skewed because of changes in when Asian factories close for Lunar New Year each year. Those numbers would bring the first half of 2018 to a total of 10.3 million TEU, an increase of 4.9 per cent. All of the numbers above are slightly higher than reported in previous Global Port Tracker news releases because Florida's Port of Jacksonville has been added to the report beginning this month to reflect its growing importance as a container port. Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, who directs the research for the report, said: "It's clear that 2017 turned out to be a remarkable year in terms of import container volume. That level of growth is difficult to sustain, however, and our models suggest that 2018 will continue to expand but only at about half that pace despite strong fundamentals that indicate a healthy economy and continued growth in consumer spending." Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle/Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and now Jacksonville.

MSC and Moby order LNG-ready ro-pax newbuild vessels from GSI

PostTime:2018-02-13 09:57:16 View:13

MSC and Moby have ordered four LNG-ready ro-pax ferry/cruise vessels, plus options for up four for more, from GSI Shipyard in China. The four newbuilds will have 3,765 m of linear capacity and be able to accommodate 2,500 passengers. Two of the vessels are destined for MSC's Italy-based ferry business GNV, and two for Achille Onorato's company Moby. The first vessel will be delivered in 2020, with the first for Achille Onorato coming in 2021. The newbuildings are designed to have a reduced environmental impact and will be LNG-ready. There are options for four more vessels – two for each owner. “Today we are taking a further step in the process begun some time ago of offering to our cargo and passenger customers the finest network of departures with vessels that are young, efficient and with low environmental impact,” said Achille Onorato. “This further step will allow us, as we continue to invest for the long term, to offer a continuously improving service, increasingly consolidating our desire to take the brand Italy proudly across the seas and to constitute a resource and an infrastructure that serves our country, continuing to create new jobs.”

Owners warned about new China regulations on solid waste

PostTime:2018-02-12 17:06:38 View:4

The London P&I Club has highlighted new stricter China regulations on solid waste imports, and warned in particular about the stiff penalties that been put in place recently. “With the increasing awareness of environmental protection in China, the Chinese government issued more and more strict regulations to prevent and control pollution, including enhancing solid waste importation control,” London P&I said in a circular to members.  It noted that the updated list of banned solid waste imports was released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Commerce and three other ministries in August last year and came into effect at the end of the year. This list added 24 types of solid waste listed under four categories to the import ban list, including eight types of waste plastic from living sources, one type of unsorted waste paper, 11 types of waste raw materials of textile and 4 types of vanadium slag. London club added that according to the regulations, in the event of dumping, storing and disposing of the foreign solid waste in China, importing the banned solid waste or restricted solid waste without a licence, customs can order the waste to be returned to its origin and impose a fine of between RMB100,000 ($15,864) to RMB1m. Criminal charges may also be made and if the importer is unknown the carrier will be liable for the costs of  repatriation and proper disposal of the waste. London P&I recommended that vessel owners take relevant measures to verify whether potential shipments are on the banned list or restricted waste list before accepting bookings. They also suggested that owners secure accurate information, customs code and relevant licence before accepting booking for the shipment.

Strong Middle East focus helps Vallianz back to recovery

PostTime:2018-02-12 17:05:14 View:5

 A renewed focus on its core chartering business in the strong Middle East market has helped offshore supply vessel (OSV) player Vallianz Holdings to a strong performance for 2017. Vallianz ceo Ling Yong Wah attributed the group’s strong operating performance to existing long-term vessel charter, the commencement of new vessel charter contracts with a key Middle East national oil company (NOC) and its cost-cutting initiatives. “Since 1Q2017/18, the group has started new charter contracts for four vessels with our NOC customer. We expect to continue deploying additional vessels over the course of the next two quarters,” Ling said in a press release.  He noted that Vallianz has grown into one of the largest OSV players in the Middle East and forged a close relationship with its key NOC customer which is a major player in the region’s offshore oil and gas production as well as made inroads with new customers in Egypt and Turkmenistan. “The Middle East will continue to be an exciting region for oil and gas activities. This outlook is supported by continued investments from the NOCs there, such as Saudi Aramco which has announced plans to invest $300bn in oil and gas projects over the next 10 years,” said Rawabi Grop chairman Sheikh Abdulaziz AlTurki. After a refinancing exercise last year, the Rawabi Group has become Vallianz’s biggest shareholder and a strategic partner. Looking ahead Ling said: “There are tentative signs of a recovery in crude oil prices as the strategies by OPEC and Russia to curb crude oil production have led to a tighter demand-supply situation.” He warned however that despite the improved conditions in the global oil and gas industry, the OSV segment continues to face a challenging operating environment. An overhang in vessel capacity amid slow demand and intense competition among OSV operators continues to depress vessel utilisation rates and exert pressure on charter rates, Ling added. Vallianz has done well in the circumstances though. As at 31 December 2017, it had a robust chartering services order book with total value of approximately $900m, comprising mainly long term charter contracts that stretch up to 2025 inclusive of two-year extension options.    “Despite the persistent adverse market conditions in the OSV sector, Vallianz has been able to forge ahead as our strategy to focus on securing long term vessel charters with national oil companies is paying off,” Ling concluded.  

IMO moving towards 2020 ban on marine fuel with over 0.5% sulphur

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:52:42 View:6

The IMO is moving towards ships being banned from carrying fuel with greater than 0.5% sulphur content from 2020 unless a scrubber is fitted. Enforcement of the 0.5% sulphur cap for marine fuel was in focus at the meeting of the IMO’s sub-committee on pollution, prevention and response last week. As part of discussion on enforcement IMO member countries agreed to make a submission to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) to prohibit carrying fuel with greater than 0.5% sulphur from 2020 unless a scrubber is fitted. The proposal for the MEPC meeting in April is currently being discussed and as matter of urgency could be adopted by October this year. The proposal would then need to be incorporated into MARPOL for it come into force. “Danish Shipping is very pleased with the clear signal IMO has sent this week. Effective enforcement is something we have worked long and hard for together with our members and a handful of sister organisations. Therefore, it was also very positive that a joint international industry proposed a ban as a prelude to the meeting of IMO and it was very helpful that the Danish authorities were at the forefront of support,” said Maria Skipper Schwenn, executive director at Danish Shipping. “Now IMO begins to work on the practical implications surrounding the implementation in order to ensure that bunker suppliers, ship owners and authorities have the right instruments and guidance to comply with the sulphur regulation. A one-week long meeting dedicated to the implementation of the sulphur requirements has been planned for July 2018,” she added.

Ship detentions at Chinese ports soar

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:51:46 View:6

With greater numbers of ships calling in Chinese ports daily, it is perhaps not surprising more ships are being inspected and more and more ships are being detained. But in step with the increase in traffic, the Beijing government "has become very strict" on matters of safety, security, and the environment, "putting big pressure on owners" the Greek Shipping Forum was told, 8 February. "The rate of detentions is very high in China compared with the Paris and Tokyo Port State Control regimes," Terence Zhao, president of Singhai Mariner Services, told the Capital Link forum. "The number of inspections being carried out is also much higher, with one ship in 10 inspected in some ports being detained," he said. Zhao also warned the ship’s flag state is a big factοr, rather the PSC records when it comes to inspections. Last year, 6,707 ships were inspected, with 5,771 booked for deficiencies, "some 85%" he said. Of the inspected ships, 358 were detained, 5.23%, considerably higher than the Paris and Tokyo PSC detentions. Chinese inspectors found an average of 3.5 deficiencies per ship. Zhao said detentions can lead to a ship being detained from one to 15 days, and “sometimes longer”. There are some 55 ports with inspection centers in China, employing about 3,000 inspectors, many of them young and English speaking. And Zhao warned "owners should advise their crew to show respect towards them". Further, owners should take special attention to being prepared when they are sailing for China for as well as documentation and equipment inspections, part of the process is drills and indeed, the owners "should arrange special drill training for crew and officers prior to sailing to China”. However, Zhao had some better news, saying the Chinese authorities sometimes, are ready to listen to explanations, and in some cases reconsider their inspection findings. Still, he warned that "because of the time differences between China and other parts of the world, for example six hours in the case of Greece, China's port state inspection regime can be an owners nightmare, as they are causing a lot of lost sleep".

Dry bulk FFA: No Black Monday for freight market, just Lunar New Year lull

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:46:15 View:7

The recent US stock market biggest single trading day drop did not dampened the market sentiment on freight market. Dubbed as “Black Monday” or rather a market correction on 5 Feb 2018  where the Dow Jones Industrial average fell by almost 1,200 point or 4.6% losses, making its largest-ever, single-day point decline on record. For the capesize freight market, the impact of the US market correction did not leave a lasting impression and went on at its mini-rally before dipping lower as the week drawn to an end.  “Activity and optimism returned to the cape FFA market on Tuesday, as we saw increased activity in the physical market and improved rates paid in both basins,” said a FIS FFA broker. Capesize time charter average on Tuesday was untainted by US stock market scare and went to score about $11,984 in spot prices, up $795 day-on-day. Feb contracts became the highest gainer at $1,000 day-on-day to $13,375. Thus, the only stumbling block for this rising momentum only pointed toward festival holidays coming in mid-February. “The Lunar New Year holidays are just around the corner, and this will certainly dampen activity at some point. But right now, it just feels good, going forward.” opined the shipbroker.  On Thursday, the capesize FFA did not seem to pull on the brakes yet as the time charter average accelerated higher to hit $13,208, up $737 day-on-day. During the trading day, the Feb contract were trading up to $13,900 and March to $16,900 before finding selling resistance. On the downside, the Q2 forward remained very thin on the offer side and thus trades concluded were minimal with Cal 20 traded $16,000 and Cal 21 at $15,200. Despite the capesize paper pushes, trade participants on the physical market felt that the market might consolidate ahead without much fixtures to sustain the high rates. As such, lower capesize freight rates were seen in the Asia Pacific region as ship-owners are more inclined to clear off their trade positions before the Lunar New Year holidays. For the panamax FFA market, time charter average took a beating throughout the week with losses among the trading days. By Thursday, the time charter average was trading at spot price of $10,134, down $237 day-on-day. “It was a similar trend on the panamax paper on Thursday with the curve under pressure in early trading before seeing some buying return post index,” commented a FIS Panamax broker. By the close of the trading day on Thursday, Feb and Mar contracts were left marginally lower at lows of $10,350 and $11,800 respectively, while Q2 recovered from $12,750 low to print $13,000 and some better buying on the deferred's saw Cal20 pushing up to print at the $10,500 level. Similar trends were seen the smaller vessels, with the supramax and handysize both posting losses throughout the week. On Thursday, the supramax paper weakened on the front of the curve as March was sold at the $10,500-$10,450 range, while time charter average recorded at $9,508 , down $101, day-on-day. handysize market then seen a quiet market throughout the week with rather static rates recorded at $7,735 on Thursday, down $34 day-on-day.

ONE launches Asia-South America services with Hapag Lloyd, MSC and HMM

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:37:56 View:6

OCEAN Network Express (ONE) that combines the container shipping businesses of Japan's "K" Line, NYK and MOL has announced it's joined Hapag Lloyd, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) to provide three new services connecting major Asia ports with the west coast of Mexico, Central America and South America. The new product offering - Asia Latin American Express (ALX) - will provide "the market with industry leading competitive transit times and reliable on-time service between Asia and the west coast of Latin America," ONE said in a statement. The first sailing of each loop will be in week 14 from Asia. The port rotation of the ALX1 is: Keelung, Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Pusan, Manzanillo, Lazaro Cardenas, Callao, Iquique, Antofagasta/Puerto Angamos (fortnightly), Valparaiso, Coronel, Valparaiso and Keelung. ALX2 port rotation is: Shanghai, Xiamen, Shekou, Hong Kong, Ningbo, Pusan, Manzanillo, Lazaro, Cardenas, Balboa, Buenaventura, Callao, San Antonio, Coronel, Lirquen, San Antonio, Puerto Angamos, Callao, Lazaro Cardenas, Manzanillo,Tokyo/Yokohama, Pusan and Shanghai. ALX3 will call Ningbo, Shanghai, Qingdao, Pusan, Yokohama, Ensenada, Manzanillo, Puerto Quetzal, Balboa, Buenaventura, Callao, Guayaquil, Buenaventura, Balboa, Lazaro Cardenas, Manzanillo, Ensenada, Yokohama, Pusan and Ningbo.

Box shipping lines earn US$7 billion in 2017, outlook looks brighter for 2018

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:35:31 View:4

CONTAINER shipping lines worldwide are estimated to have collectively earned US$7 billion last year, and Drewry forecasts 2018's results may be even better. In its latest Container Market Outlook & Freight Rate Trend, Drewry says it expects ongoing volume growth in every region. As a result, it has revised upwards its forecast for 2018 from an annualised growth rate of 3.6 per cent to 4.3 per cent, reported UK's The Loadstar. It noted this would represent a further nine million containers requiring shipment, which has eased concerns about overcapacity given the arrival of a significant number of mega newbuild vessels. Drewry Supply Chain Advisors director Philip Damas was quoted as saying: "Supply pressures are not as hazardous as it would appear," due to the ability of shipping lines to "suppress the impact by deferring deliveries" and off-hiring chartered tonnage when needed. The market appears to be ready for off-hired ships. One broker told The Loadstar he had charterers in some sectors "becoming desperate" for tonnage. The number of idle containerships dropped to a new low of 82, equating to 301,116 TEU, or just 1.6 per cent of the global fleet, according Alphaliner data. The analysts said that the active fleet has now reached 20.98 million TEU, an increase of 10.8 per cent compared to last year. Carriers can now look to fixing most Asia to Europe contract rates at a level on par with or slightly better than last year, which itself was a significant improvement on 2016. There is still time to run before the transpacific contract negotiation season starts, but the initial indications on that route are also positive.  

Asia-Europe rate rose 0.2pc to US$914/TEU, fall 4.3pc to USWC

PostTime:2018-02-12 16:34:14 View:4

SPOT rates for shipping containers from Asia to northern Europe in the week ending Friday ticked up 0.2 per cent to US$914 per TEU, according to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI). Asia-Mediterranean trade slipped 0.8 per cent to $791 per TEU, American Shipper reported. Asia to the US west coast fell 4.3 per cent week over week to $1,486 per FEU while those to the east coast were off 2.4 per cent to $2,775 per FEU.