World Maritime News (82)

Port congestion spreads to northern Europe

The container port congestion focused mainly on Asia and the western Mediterranean has begun to spread to northern Europe, with fears that strikes in Germany will exacerbate the situation. “Global port congestion continued to rise over the past week, with over 2.4m teu of vessel capacity waiting at anchorages as of 16 June, of which 60% is in Asia. Overall congestion is at an 18-month high, with a further escalation expected following the declaration of an unannounced strike action at German ports on 17 June that will affect ships calling at Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Congestion at European ports has already started to pick up in recent weeks, with delays seen at Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Southampton, as well as in Germany, and the situation is expected to worsen further,” said analysts at Linerlytica.


Read more: Lloyd’s List


Mediterranean ports hit by multiple challenges

The challenges faced in container shipping since the beginning of the decade have led to “unprecedented” challenges for ports and terminals in the Mediterranean. Mr. Jordi Torrent, the strategy director of the port of Barcelona and the secretary-general of the industry association Medports, said, “Before the pandemic, at Barcelona, we used to have a 90% schedule reliability,” he said. “In 2022 and the first half of 2023, it fell to 30%-35%. It recovered to 60%-70% before the tragedy in Gaza and the Red Sea crisis and is now down to 50%-60%.” “Some ports are facing congestion due to this sudden increase of traffic, and terminals have to adapt the operations to accommodate this traffic and not hamper the traditional import and export traffic that used to be there,” he said. Environmental regulation was also adding to the stresses faced by Mediterranean ports. “It can have different effects in the region and on the European and non-European ports,” he said.


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Container capacity sucking Red Sea diversions may be status quo

It’s been six months since most container shipping diverted cargo around Africa rather than risk Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea via Suez Canal routings. The nearly inconceivable has morphed into the status quo, readjusting the degree of overcapacity facing the industry and driving rocketing outbound Asia rates. Houthi rebels have little incentive to stop attacks even if there is a Gaza-Israel ceasefire, there’s no US appetite to root them out, and a political solution is highly unlikely.


Read more: JOC


Global disruption further complicates ocean carrier network building

Ocean carriers face interesting choices as alliance allegiances shift and unexpected challenges, such as diversions away from the Suez Canal, alter their ship operating systems. Of course, attention is automatically paid to which ports are directly served and the key benchmarks of frequency and transit time. However, a bigger question is hanging over the original and the currently redesigned deployments: How do you build a robust, resilient system in the face of operational and geopolitical disruptions that throw conventional container shipping networks into disarray? The Red Sea crisis has shown that one way to circumvent a significant disruption partially is to throw more ships into the pot, which makes both individual services and the more extensive carrier networks nimbler and more flexible. It is not necessarily a recipe for overall success, however. It’s not easy to procure ships quickly, and the price in the charter market rises rapidly as demand increases. There are also adverse knock-on effects to other trades; as ships and equipment are sucked away to help fill holes in disrupted lanes, reliability suffers in less prioritized trades.


Read more: JOC


World boxship fleet hits new landmark

The seemingly never-ending slew of containerships entering the market has pushed the capacity of the deployed fleet to 30m teu, according to new data from Alphaliner. Brokers report many boxship orders in the pipeline, with many tonnage providers and liner operators, including Seaspan and CMA CGM, having signed letters of intent with top-tier shipyards in China and South Korea. However, while container demand growth for 2024 has been revised up to 4.5%, capacity growth still far outstrips this. Any normalization of Red Sea transits would see a rapid return of capacity into the market and a likely return to overcapacity.


Read more: Lloyd’s List


Methane slip will not go away without regulation, report argues

The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping estimates methane emissions from shipping to reach 1.4m tonnes in its baseline scenario, calling for regulations on new buildings to head off an important source of greenhouse gases from shipping According to an argument in a new report by the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, existing regulations will not stop methane emissions from LNG ships from getting worse as the global fleet grows. Existing technology could cut methane slip by up to 80% for new buildings and up to 50% for retrofits. Still, the report argued that shipowners lacked an incentive to adopt this under current regulations. “Therefore, the uptake of methane emissions reduction technologies will need to be encouraged by legislation specifically targeting methane slip,” it said. That finding contradicts claims made by the LNG lobby in past years, arguing that methane slip would be reduced as better engines and after-treatment technologies are developed.


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Regulation: IMO carbon price negotiations to set the scene

The International Maritime Organization will be on top of shipping’s regulatory agenda during the second half of 2024, as its member states will try to inch closer to an agreement over a greenhouse gas pricing mechanism and a fuel standard. The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting at the end of September could make or break key negotiations at the UN agency over emissions-reduction measures to put the shipping industry on the right path to hit net zero targets in 2050.


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Japan’s Tsuneishi Shipbuilding targets hard sail commercialization in 2027

Japanese shipbuilder Tsuneishi Shipbuilding, in partnership with Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding and Akishima Laboratory, aims to make its hard sail technology commercial within three years. The wind propulsion device will be retractable and can be installed on existing vessels with minimal modifications. The first installation of the hard sail on vessels is anticipated to occur in 2026, with commercialization targeted for 2027. As alternative fuels remain scarce and costly, several companies turn to the wind for decarbonization and fuel efficiency. Japanese shipowner MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding co-developed the hard sail technology, Wind Challenger. Several Chinese companies have also joined the development and manufacturing of wind propulsion systems, leveraging their leading position in shipbuilding.


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Maersk employees innovate a system to deliver fresh water from Maersk’s vessels to ports

Freshwater scarcity is an increasing problem faced by regions all over the world. With this background, a team of three employees of A.P. Moller–Maersk (Maersk), who are former seafarers, decided to undertake an innovative project that could store and deliver fresh water from vessels to ports. Cargo ships undertaking global trade are equipped with freshwater generator systems that produce clean drinking water by distilling sea water using heat energy harnessed from their engines. Traditionally, this system has generated water for consumption only onboard the vessels. However, the excess water produced has been overlooked. This innovative project has capitalized on this untapped resource by optimizing the process and storing the excess water in tank containers before delivering it to ports. Each vessel can fill two tank containers on an average sea voyage between two ports. With the process optimized and tank containers stored at the right location onboard, two tank containers with a combined capacity of 50,000 liters can be filled with fresh water. At the first pilot run, two tank containers filled with 25,000 liters of fresh water were delivered at the Port of Colombo and Port of Salalah.


Read more: Maersk