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WORLDWIDE SHIPPING INDUSTRY
Baltic index sheds over 7pc to touch 4-month trough

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, slid more than 7 percent to its lowest in over four months on Wednesday as demand languished across all vessel segments.

The Baltic index, which reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, fell 123 points, or 7.4 percent, to 1,533, its lowest since July 2. The capesize index slumped 249 points, or 8.4 percent, to 2,726, its lowest in more than four months. Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000-180,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, fell $2,395 to $22,217. The panamax index dropped 51 points, or 3.6 percent, to 1,385, extending its losing streak to a 17th consecutive session.

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US sets sights on shipping companies for sanctions evasions

The United States will target shipping companies that are in breach of sanctions and aggressively enforce measures across the globe to clamp down on such practices, a top US official quoted as saying on Wednesday. In one of the biggest sanctions actions taken by the US government since its crackdown on Iranian oil exports, Washington imposed sanctions on Chinese companies in late September for alleged involvement in moving crude oil from Iran.

COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian), a subsidiary of China’s state-owned shipping group COSCO, was one of the companies blacklisted. Concern over shippers were falling foul of U.S. sanctions sent oil freight costs to record highs around the world, adding millions of dollars to the cost of every voyage.

Shippers assured of low-sulphur fuel supply, relaxed regulations

The Indian shipping community, which is preparing for the global ban on carrying and burning of fuels with sulphur content higher than 0.5 percent in ships, received two assurances on Tuesday in Chennai.

One is related to a more relaxed enforcement regime in the first few months of next year, owing to the uncertainty over the level of preparedness of the industry in dealing with the change, and the other from Indian oil companies that they are ready to supply the required low sulphur fuel. With the mandate scheduled to kick in on January 1, 2020, Captain SIAK Azad, Deputy Nautical Advisor at the Mercantile Marine Department, said that the regulator’s priority in the first few months will be ease of doing business.

Sailing towards a carbon-neutral future

To mitigate the environmental impact of this increase, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently adopted a new strategy aimed at reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) from shipping by 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. This comes on top of the previously established NOx and SOx caps that should be in place by 2020.

The shipping industry needs to quickly explore new solutions to cut emissions. The challenge is that there is no panacea yet that will create such a zero-emissions shipping ecosystem. Instead, available opportunities and acknowledged trends include large scale roll-outs of alternative fuels, (fully electric ships and hydrogen fuel cells, as popularised in the media), and increased digitalisation of the industry and the on-board utilisation of wind and solar energy. The estimated cost of synthetic LNG in 2030 is on par, or lower, than other alternative fuels, and this combined with the world’s decade-long experience with marine LNG fuel makes it a safe and reliable bet.

 

Demolition market still on ‘standby’ mode

The disappointing figures related to the demolition activity this year have continued over the course of the past week as well, in yet another indication, that the gradual improvement of the freight rate market during 2019 has deterred many owners from scrapping their older ships.

In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Clarkson Platou Hellas said that “with the tail end of Diwali celebrations and other varied global public holidays in the early part of the week, the market has not got off the ground and remained flat with very little activity to note.

Ship owners return to yards for dry bulkers

It’s been a while, but ship owners seem to adopt a more bullish stance on the dry bulk market’s future prospects, at least when considering the latest flurry of newbuilding orders placed.

In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Allied Shipbroking noted that a big surprise was witnessed this past week in the dry bulk newbuilding market, with activity increasing considerably after several weeks of almost complete lack of new orders coming through. Despite the fact that earnings continue to drop, owners this past week seem to have shown a more bullish face, proceeding with several new orders. Kamsarmax was the size segment of preference, reflecting the somehow positive sentiment for the future of this size tonnage.

Tankers: the Nigerian factor

The operation of the new Dangote refinery in Nigeria is bound to affect the West African tanker market. At this point, it’s only a matter of when, not if. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Gibson said that a few months ago it was reported that the construction of the 650,000 b/d Dangote refinery in Nigeria will not be completed until the end of 2020, a year later from the original plans due to problems importing steel and other equipment needed for the refinery.

The plant, located at the Lekki Free Zone (in close proximity to Lagos), will be the largest single train refinery in the world. It will be complimented by the petrochemical and fertilizer projects, served by the refinery by-products as raw materials.

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