WORLDWIDE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
Baltic index falls for tenth straight session
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, slipped for the tenth successive time on Wednesday as rates across the capesize and panamax categories declined. The Baltic index, which reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, fell 17 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,266 points. The capesize index was down 62 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,394 points. Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000-180,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, declined $242 to $33,141. The panamax index fell 32 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,089 points. Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, fell $260 to $16,717. The supramax index was unchanged at 1,292 points.
Ships trading under pressure in the Persian Gulf
Rising geo-political tensions have led to disruptions to the tanker shipping industry and all other ships trading in the Persian Gulf. Tensions have risen following the expiry of waivers to the US imposed Iran sanctions, as well as attacks and arrests of ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Despite the ending of waivers which the US had hoped would lead to all countries stopping their imports of Iranian crude oil. This has not been the case with the Chinese in particular continuing; their crude oil imports from Iran totalled 11m tonnes in the first six months of the year. This is 30.1 percent lower than last year and imports have slowed throughout the year; averaging 2.3m tonnes in the first 4 months but subsequently slowing to 1.1m tonnes in May and 0.9m tonnes in June. Exact data for Iranian crude oil exports does not currently exist. Reuters has reported that a Trump administration official estimates that 50-70 percent of Iranian’s crude oil exports are for China and around 30 percent go to Syria. The now renamed Adrian Darya 1 (formerly Grace 1) was arrested while believed to be sailing with crude oil from Iran to Syria, in breach not only of US sanctions against Iran, but also EU sanctions against Syria.
UK ports bring £9.7 billion of direct value to economy
New figures published by the ports industry reveal the hidden scale of the industry across the UK. As well as being key trading gateways – handling 95 percent of UK trade – ports are the foundation of the entire marine economy and are increasingly supporting other types of valuable economic activity, from leisure to fishing, offshore energy and marine aggregates.
The research was commissioned by the British Ports Association (BPA) and UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) via Maritime UK and undertaken by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR). British Ports Association Chairman and Chief Executive of the Port of Blyth, Martin Lawlor, said; Unlike some parts of the world, UK ports do all of this at no cost to the taxpayer. Last year we delivered £5.3bn to the exchequer and supporting £46 billion of GVA. That is an incredible achievement: 20percent higher than 2010 and forecast to grow another 15percent in the next five years. Ports are delivering jobs, investment and prosperity – but that is no accident.
Los Angeles cargo scores another record breaking 861,081 TEU
The Port of Los Angeles has set a new single-month cargo record for the fifth consecutive month, reports the American Journal of Transportation. In August, the port moved 861,081 TEU, the busiest August in the port’s 112-year history and a 4.2 percent increase over the same period last year.
August 2019 imports increased 4.1 percent to 437,613 TEU compared to the previous year. Exports decreased 10 percent to 146,284 TEU, the 10th consecutive monthly decline of exports. Empty containers increased 13.8 percent to 277,183 TEU. Combined, August overall volumes were 861,081 TEU. The previous August record was set in 2017 with 847,857 TEU. Eight months into 2019 overall volumes have increased 5.7 percent compared to 2018, when the port set an all-time cargo record.
Fallout from container port automation
Automation and ‘digitization’ of container terminals can lead to job losses and reduced tax revenue that have a substantial effect on local economies. That’s the conclusion of a study by Prism Economics and Analysis commissioned by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada. It examined what might result from full or partial automation of container terminals in the British Columbia ports of Prince Rupert, Delta and Vancouver.
Concerns about automation was one of the major issues in contract negotiations between the ILWU and terminal operators that was only resolved after a short-lived work stoppage in May. Prism’s research is just the first in a number of studies that will examine the issue of port automation. Several have been ordered by local and state authorities in the wake of a decision by APM Terminals to automate its terminal in Los Angeles. APMT’s plans sparked protests by ILWU workers and sympathetic members of the community.
The US Maritime Administration also is analyzing port automation. Longshore work provides a significant portion of the middle-class and high-income jobs in the three British Columbia cities at which container terminals are located, Prism said.