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Shipping rates plunge on fears of trade war impact

When US President Donald Trump fired the first salvos in his trade war with China, the market for hauling bulk commodities that power the Asian country’s economy responded with a surprising surge. Now shipowners are losing their swagger. Rates to haul iron ore and coal on 1,000-foot Capesize ships plunged by 39 percent since reaching their 2018 peak in early August. Fourth-quarter hedging contracts dropped 11 percent from their high last month.

Some observers say freight costs offer investors clues about economic and trade growth. Increased purchases of iron ore feed China’s steel mills and ultimately power the country’s construction industry. Coal is predominantly used in power generation. Capesize day rates slumped 3.9 percent to $16,559 a day on Wednesday, according to data from the Baltic Exchange.

Long beach box volume slips 1.9pc in August, but rises 9.4pc so far this year

Container volumes at the Port of Long Beach were 1.9 percent lower in August compared to the same month the year before. Long Beach’s volumes through the first eight months of the year stand at 5,320,930 TEU. The figure is 9.4 percent above the pace of 2017, the port’s best year ever. A total of 679,543 TEU were moved through the port. Imports declined 3.6 percent to 343,029 TEU. Exports increased, inching up 1.9 per cent to 119,546 TEU. Empty containers sent overseas dipped 1.1 per cent to 216,968 TEU.

August 2017 was one of the busiest months in the Port of Long Beach’s 107-year history. At the time, it was the third-busiest month ever, and the mark has been exceeded three times since. The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for transpacific trade and a trailblazer in goods movement and environmental stewardship.

Asia bunkering industry preparing for imo 2020 sulfur deadline

From Cosco in China to Posco in South Korea, Asian companies are pouring in millions of dollars to upgrade their shipping fleets as the International Maritime Organization’s deadline for cleaner bunker fuels inches closer.

With less than 16 months remaining, the global shipping industry is setting aside about $60 billion to obtain the right infrastructure in order to embrace cleaner shipping fuel. The IMO’s global fuel sulfur cap is set to drop from 3.5% to 0.5% at the start of 2020, forcing shipowners to make changes.

 

Norway kick-starts collaboration on zero-carbon trade

Norway convened a high-level panel this week to boost collaboration on creating zero-carbon trade and transport sectors, as part of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Environment ministers from Norway and the Marshall Islands will be speaking with leaders from clean-tech start-ups, regional and local government, and the largest shipping company in the world.

Norway, with its long coastline, a large coastal fleet and a major international maritime industry, is at the forefront of decarbonizing maritime transport. Several US states and cities share the ambitions of zero emission transport. In a global industry like shipping, pioneering solutions being deployed in Norway, the US and elsewhere can contribute to low emission trade and development.

US container ports continue to grow

With retail sales still strong, volumes through US container ports continues on its record-breaking course, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Ports covered by the monthly report handled 1.9 million TEU in July, up 2.8 percent from June and up 5.6 percent year-over-year. August was estimated at 1.92 million TEU, up 4.8 percent year-over-year. September is forecast at 1.83 million TEU, up 2.4 percent; October at 1.88 million, up five percent; November at 1.79 million TEU, up 1.7 percent, and December also at 1.79 million TEU, up 3.6 percent. January 2019 is forecast at 1.77 million TEU, up 0.4 percent over January 2018.

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Shippers fear engine failures as industry forced to upgrade fuel

Add oil tankers breaking down at sea to the list of things shipping companies are worrying about as they brace for a once-in-a-generation overhaul to the kind of fuel the industry must consume.

From January 1, 2020, the vast majority of the world’s merchant fleet will have to use fuel containing no more than 0.5 percent sulfur, down from 3.5 percent in most parts of the world today. The change is expected to upend both shipping and refining industries, with analysts forecasting higher oil prices, slower-sailing ships, and some observers even warning of risks to world trade.

Now more and more of the world’s largest shipping companies and trade groups, already mindful of spiraling costs, are saying there’s a safety risk too. Their primary worry is the lack of a single fuel type that complies with the rules. Since refineries across the world are coming up with different solutions to meet the sulfur-reduction target, owners say their ships’ engines could be damaged by inadvertently mixing incompatible products.

S Africa’s transnet to deepen Durban port berths

South Africa’s Transnet said on Tuesday it will spend 7 billion rand ($464 million) to deepen berths at Africa’s biggest container terminal in the port city of Durban to accommodate larger vessels.

Transnet, which operates nearly three-quarters of the African rail network, the bulk of which is in South Africa, aims to complete the work by 2023, it said in a statement. Transnet said the project at the Durban port, which handles around 65 percent of South Africa’s container cargo, will include the reconstruction, deepening and lengthening of berths 203 to 205 for the larger ships.

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