World Maritime News
Global container trade volume 2020
Global container traffic in 2020 came in just 1.2% lower than in the previous 12 months despite the upheaval of the pandemic, the latest figures from Container Trades Statistics shows with 168.2 million teu in 2020 compared with around 170 million teu in 2019.
Transpacific trade was a rise of 7.3% at 20.1 million, while Asia-Europe trade saw the annual total of 15.8 million teu falling short by 5.5% on the previous year.
Read more: Lloyd’s List
Several European ports unite in two giant merger
The Belgian port deal was announced 12 February between the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges. When the merger is completed early next year, the entity will operate under the name of Port of Antwerp-Bruges. Antwerp handled 11.9 million teu and Zeebrugge operated 1.8 million teu in 2019, while Rotterdam handled 14.8 million teu in 2019. Antwerp specializes in the handling and storage of container, breakbulk and chemical products, while Zeebrugge is a major port for ro-ro traffic (unpacked cars), container handling, and the transshipment of liquid natural gas. Port of Antwerp-Bruges will be one of the largest breakbulk ports in the world, with the largest vehicle throughput in Europe, as well as Europe’s most important chemical hub.
The merger of French ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris will be finalized in 1 June under a single public company, Haropa with 2.4 million teu handled in 2020.
LA-LB congestion to clear by late spring
Terminal operators in Los Angeles and Long Beach say near-record volumes will continue well into the spring, but the backlogs of vessels in the harbor and laden inbound containers on the terminal should dissipate sometime between April and June.
Container dwell times at 12 terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach averaged 4.99 days in December. The congestion of the San Pedro Bay ports which are the worst hit as they are receiving unprecedented volumes of imports just at the moment when COVID-19 has reduced the number of dockworkers and truckers. Over 1,000 dock-workers in California tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of week 6. As a result 41 container ships were awaiting a berth at or near to the San Pedro anchorages at the beginning of February. Waiting times for container ships often exceeded a week. All stakeholders strongly wish COVID-19 vaccine become widespread with priority among dockworkers.
Container spot rates
There are growing signs of demand easing on the Asia-Europe trade, with spot rates sliding for four of the last five weeks (as of week 8) as a new economic forecast suggests a feeble 2021 start for the European continent. DHL Global Forwarding said it was becoming clear that strong demand on Asia-Europe that has filled all available capacity for months was beginning to moderate. The demand has not increased further, and will go down rather than up over the coming months, it added.
Maersk posts U$ 2.9 billion 2020 profit, expects even stronger 2021
Maersk posted a U$ 2.9 billion net profit in 2020, led by strong rebounding fourth quarter demand. EBITDA (Earnings before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortization) surged44% to U$ 8.2 billion for the year. Return on invested capital increased to 9.6 %. Maersk has forecast volume growth of 3 to 5 per cent in 2021, with the highest growth occurring in the first half, and expects container shortages and supply chain bottlenecks to continue at least through the first quarter.
Maersk CEO Søren Skou aims at around 50% of its earnings from ocean business and another 50% from logistics and terminal business and said “We are going to do some more acquisitions.”
Capital expenditure across the group’s activities over 2021-2022 is expected to be in the range of U$ 4.5-U$5.5 billion.
Disagreement on ship prices stalls newbuilding market
Ordering activity is being slowed by a gap between owners and yards over the expectations of ship prices. Prices for ship plate have jumped by U$ 100 per ton over the weeks, while the value of the yuan against the US dollar is reaching 30 year highs. As a result, some of the orders, for which a letter of intent had been signed towards the end of 2020, now face the prospect of losing millions of dollars in value. The continued uncertainties over environmental regulations and future marine fuels remained the most important factors damping the appetite for fresh tonnage as owners simply cannot decide on the choice of propulsion systems.
Read more: Lloyd’s List
Euronav aims to have newbuild suezmax pair ammonia-ready
Euronav, the crude tanker owner, will spend U$ 113 million for newbuild suezmax pair that could run on LNG and even potentially ammonia if structural adjustments are made in the future. The ships are set to be delivered from South Korea in 2022. Euronav opted for the option of LNG, which has lower carbon dioxide emissions than fuel oil but emits methane too, as the interim solution. Ships running on LNG will first switch to ammonia, even if the hype appears to be louder about the promise of hydrogen as the leading next-generation fuel. The first wave of ammonia retrofit may take off in the next decade, according to DNV GL.
ONE eyes biofuels as decarbonisation pathway
Ocean Network Express has identified biofuels as a viable decarbonisation pathway after a successful trial on one of its vessels. Its 4,803 teu MOL Experience completed trial voyage from Rotterdam to US on 7 February, running on biofuels that offer 80%-90% reduction in well-to-exhaust carbon dioxide emissions. The biofuel used by the vessel was made from waste oils and provided by Dutch supplier GoodFuels. They are functionally equivalent to petroleum-derived marine fuels and no modification is required to the engine or the fuel infrastructure, according to ONE.
Read more: Lloyd’s List