Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd to form new alliance
Container shipping’s alliances face another new shake-up with the announcement on 17 January of an agreement between Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd that will come into effect following the dissolution of the 2M agreement in 2025. Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk have signed an agreement for a new long-term operational agreement, the Gemini Cooperation, that will launch in February 2025. The operational cooperation will cover 26 mainlane services on seven trades, including Asia-US (east and west coasts), Asia-Middle East, Asia-Mediterranean and northern Europe, Middle East-India and Europe, and the transatlantic. It will also include dedicated shuttle and feeder services.
Singapore bunker sales, container throughput hit new record in 2023
Singapore’s port posted record bunker sales of 51.82m tonnes in 2023, as well as strong growth in sales of alternative fuels. According to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s latest figures, bunker sales last year exceeded the previous record of 50.64m tonnes set in 2017, reflecting the maritime hub’s key position as a major bunkering center. More significantly, 1.2% of Singapore’s bunker sales comprised alternative fuels, defined by MPA as bunker from biofuel blends, liquefied natural gas, and methanol.
Singapore port’s container throughput in 2023 also reached a new high of 39m teu, with 4.6% year-on-year growth. Of the new record figures, 38.8m teu were accomplished by PSA International, the major port operator in Singapore, as stated in the company’s press release.
Maersk opts for rail crossing on a north-south service to bypass Panama Canal
Maersk plans to eliminate Panama Canal vessel transits on a north-south service between Oceania and the US East Coast, citing the ongoing drought that has reduced ship transits and container carrying capacity through the waterway. The Copenhagen-based carrier said on 10 January that its OC1 service linking Australia and New Zealand with the ports of Philadelphia and Charleston will instead use a 50-mile rail service across the Isthmus of Panama to handle cargo between the Atlantic and Pacific. As a result, the OC1 service will be broken into two loops, Maersk said. The Pacific loop will drop off northbound cargo at Balboa for the land bridge service via rail to Manzanillo, where the Atlantic loop will retrieve the cargo and resume waterborne service.
Red Sea rerouting is not a rerun of supply chain crisis
There is no doubt that the situation in the Red Sea is impacting shippers, but the rerouting of voyages around the Cape of Good Hope will not lead to a rerun of the supply chain disruption seen during the pandemic. Even the US and the UK’s overnight attack on Houthi forces is unlikely to exacerbate the situation further, as most container shipments already take the long route around the Cape of Good Hope.
Read more: Lloyd’s List
Red Sea diversions increase boxship emissions
Container shipping’s Red Sea diversions push freight rates and the carbon emissions from vessels to take an extended route around the Cape of Good Hope. Despite the best intentions of the majority of carriers and many of their shipper customers to reduce their emissions, the simple rules of physics require that a longer voyage will burn more fuel and emit more carbon.
In the meantime, Maersk has signed up Flying Tiger Copenhagen, a home and accessories retailer based in Denmark, to its bio-fuel-driven ECO Delivery product even as an analyst report shows how moves to cut ocean transportation emissions are being temporarily set back by vessel diversions around the southern tip of Africa to avoid Red Sea attacks.
Vehicle carrier operators pick up bill for Red Sea diversions
Additional costs incurred in rerouting ships from the Suez Canal via the Cape of Good Hope will likely hurt vehicle carrier operators’ financial performance. “Deviating around the Cape of Good Hope has increased tonne-miles and is making vessel utilization worse, while operators are still not sure if they can recover these additional costs from their customers — it is not yet clear how the financial burden of rerouting will be passed on,” a vehicle carrier chartering broker told Lloyd’s List. Unlike the container sector, which suffered from overcapacity before the Red Sea crisis, vehicle carrier operators have few options available to increase their fleets to account for the reduction in capacity caused by the ship rerouting, which adds up to 14 days to voyages. The global large car and truck carrier fleet was already operating at 100% utilization before attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels began in November. While most vehicle carriers are diverted, Cosco, K Line, NYK Line, and Grimaldi Group continue using the Red Sea and Suez Canal for their vessels bound to and from northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia.
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Boxship fleet set to hit 30m teu this year
The capacity of the global containership fleet could hit the 30m teu mark this year, meaning it will have grown by 50% in the seven years since it broke the 20m teu barrier in 2017. “In 2023, shipyards delivered 350 new containerships with a total capacity of 2.2m teu, beating the previous record from 2015 when 1.7m teu was delivered. The 2023 record is likely to be beaten already in 2024,” said BIMCO chief shipping analyst Niels Rasmussen.
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Zim joins list of carriers deploying sensors on dry box fleet
On 9 January, Zim Integrated Shipping Services became the latest shipping line to equip its dry container fleet with tracking devices after signing a deal with technology provider Hoopo Systems. The agreement will see Hoopo deploy its hoopoSense Solar devices on the carrier’s more than 500,000 containers. Neither Zim nor Hoopo specified an exact timeline for the rollout, but Hoopo CEO Ittay Hayut told the Journal of Commerce, “Our goal is to move as fast as possible.” Zim joins Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express (ONE) in committing to deploy sensor hardware across its entire fleet of dry boxes.
Read more: JOC
‘Inadvisable’ to use CII during review period, say top flag states and industry groups
It is “inadvisable” to use the International Maritime Organization’s Carbon Intensity Indicator during its review through to 2026, according to a formal submission by member states Bahamas and Liberia and industry groups. The submission requested that member states and international organizations inform wider stakeholders, such as financiers and insurers, that it is “inadvisable” to use the CII rating system, as, until its review is completed, it remains in an interim status. The International Chamber of Shipping, Intertanko, the Cruise Lines International Association, and the International Parcel Tankers Association were among the industry groups behind the submission. The flag states and the industry groups requested the IMO consider their submission at the Marine Environment Protection Committee 81, which takes place during the week starting on 18 March 2024.
Read more: Lloyd’s List