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Big Ships that are Coming or Already Here Present New Challenges

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Big Ships that are Coming or Already Here Present New Challenges

The year 2020 is almost here and customer demands, import and export trends and trade tensions show no signs of slowing down. The new year presents both opportunities and challenges for players within the supply chain to increase productivity through maximizing resources or get left behind as competitors take over. There are layers of factors for global shippers to consider in determining the best approach in remaining both competitive, efficient, and to be honest, relevant. Major factors in consideration include IMO 2020, traffic increases and vessel sizing.

Looking at some statistics reveals an interesting picture of exactly what’s going on and what shippers can prepare for based on last year’s trends. According to the 2019 North American Ports Outlook report by Cushman & Wakefield, the intermodal traffic rates saw an increase by 5.5 percent, while 90 percent of internationally shipped dry, non-bulk manufactured goods are containerized. Oh yeah, automobile imports are on the rise also.

Data make clear that big ships can not only create competitive advantages but also recreate what modern competition looks like. Cushman & Wakefield’s report shows that 79 percent of the international containership supply is dominated by the 2M Alliance (Maersk and MSC), the Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM, COSCO and Evergreen) and THE Alliance (ONE, Hapag Lloyd and Yang Ming). Not only do these alliances carry a massive amount of clout among competitors globally, but they also boast massive container vessels.

COSCO Shipping Universe, for example, sits right at 21,237 TEU capacity at 400 meters x 58.6 meters. This massive vessel holds the title as the largest cargo ship in China and the fourth largest in the world. Additionally, this vessel comes with an added bonus to further charge its performance through the support of ABB Turbocharges that enable the vessel to travel at 22 nautical miles per hour.

“The ABB turbochargers on COSCO Shipping Universe will support maximum performance and fuel efficiency, in addition to contributing to COSCO Shipping Lines pursuing green shipping practices for long-term success,” stated Oliver Riemenschneider, managing director, ABB Turbocharging in a press release announcing the vessel’s delivery in June of 2018. “We foresee the ABB turbochargers on the forthcoming mega container ships in the Universe series will contribute similar viable operational gains.”

As the vessels get bigger and better, industry players can rightfully anticipate this as a major trend to keep an eye out for in 2020. Although increasing ship sizes supporting more capacity with fewer miles in between is a win-win, shippers must consider how this impacts the ports and their size capabilities and most importantly, their access to such ports. The North American Ports Outlook report states that orders for new vessels are being placed exceeding 22,000 TEUs and that East Coast ports are beginning to see more large ships. Furthermore, the Neopanamax Locks confirmed that as of just recently, it can handle over 14,000 TEU ships, but not by much. That’s not going to cut it for the big ships predicted in the near future.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. announced a successful Asia-to-Europe voyage for the MSC Gülsün ship. The 23,756 TEU vessel holds the title as the world’s largest container ship and adds a new level of quality with its advanced engineering focused on energy efficiency and reduced fuel consumption overall. The Gülsün is one of more than 10 ships to be added to MSC’s advanced fleet between 2019-2020, and it doesn’t stop there. The IMO-2020 ready vessel boasts a hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (UN IMO-approved, of course) paired with a low-Sulphur fuel and/or LNG adaptation option. Not only is this ship more than prepared for revolutionizing the approach to IMO standards, but it’s also making a big dent in operational efficiencies.

Evergreen also made news last year by confirming new vessels with up to 23,000 TEU capacity are being added to its fleet. Information released from numerous sources confirmed that five or more vessels with such TEU capacity were approved for order. These mega-ships will be built at South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard and China State Shipbuilding Corp.with a price tag of roughly $1.6 billion. The order was placed back in September and current service estimation sits between 12-18 months, according to various reports.

Go ahead and add Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd to the list of super vessels to come. The Wall Street Journal reported that up to six ships with TEU capacity well over 20,000 were confirmed. Hapag Lloyd already boasts six vessels within the A 18 class with more than 19,000 TEU capacity. Overall, Hapag Lloyd boasts a total fleet TEU capacity of 1.7 million… and counting.

Even with these new massive ships on the horizon, it is hard to compare to the OOCL Hong Kong, the first of six in the G-class with a whopping 21,413 TEU capacity. One such ship went down in history as the world’s first to ever break the 21,000 TEU-capacity marks. Within months of this announcement, the OOCL Scandinavia, the OOCL Germany and the OOCL United Kingdom–all with 21,4313 TEU capacity—were also announced and christened.

“While our industry seems to have the knack to ‘outdo’ one another in building larger containerships relatively quickly these days, this project is nonetheless an important moment for us,” stated OOCL Chairman C.C. Tung in the announcement. “Faced with increasing competition and un-ending pressure on costs, we need to take the bold step in operating larger size ships of quality and high efficiency in order to stay relevant and compete effectively as a major container shipping company.”

Tung concluded, after the OOCL Scandinavia reveal, “This achievement is about working to bring people and companies of different professions and nationalities together to reach new heights, innovate, solve complicated engineering problems, and along the way, why not break a world record, too.”

Although the OOCL Hong Kong has yet to be replaced, competitors are pushing the limits of capacity to break new records the shipping sector has yet to encounter. Maximizing the capacity limits the industry is currently used to paired with the IMO 2020 regulations and changes will undoubtedly filter the industry leaders. The real question remains: Who will set the bar even higher than what it is now and how will they do it?

IMO 2020

Happy New Year: IMO 2020 is Here

A new year is right around the corner, which means IMO 2020 is finally here. Effective January 1, 2020, Annex VI of MARPOL, which is the international treaty governing pollution on the high seas, will mandate a significant decrease in sulfur emissions from vessels—reducing the current permitted level of 35,000 ppm to 5,000 ppm. Compliance with this new standard will primarily be achieved through the burning of low-sulfur fuel, although compliance choices include other methods like the use of scrubbers and liquid natural gas (“LNG”) as fuel. Under this regime, the primary responsible party in the freight market will be the vessel owner or operator. 

It is estimated that 10-20 percent of vessels after January 1, 2020, simply will not comply with the new IMO 2020 sulfur standard. Furthermore, because there is no industry standard specification for bunker fuel, there is an increased risk of fuel quality issues that lead to suboptimal performance and engine damage, which may give rise to inadvertent non-compliance. As a result, the industry should expect significant enforcement efforts of this new standard. 

The IMO does not have a global enforcement body. Instead, IMO member states pass laws implementing the provisions of Annex VI, which are enforced by bodies analogous to the US Coast Guard and US Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). In particular, port states can enforce compliance within their coastal waters while flag states may enforce the standard on vessels flagged in their countries. Both port states and flag states have the authority to arrest vessels, and issue fines, penalties and prison sentences. 

Historically, the United States has been a lead enforcer of MARPOL, and the industry should expect robust enforcement in the United States regardless of whether the non-compliance occurs in US or non-US waters. It is likely that US authorities will seek to enforce IMO 2020 through whether the vessel is maintaining true and accurate records, specifically its bunker delivery notes (“BDNs”) and fuel changeover logbook. Any listing of noncompliant fuel or false or inaccurate statements in those records could result in the US Coast Guard detaining the vessel and prosecuting the vessel owner, operator, bunker fuel supplier or other responsible party. Although the likelihood of direct non-compliance in US waters is low, even indirect non-compliance can still be enforced if the vessel’s records are false or inaccurate. 

Prior enforcement of IMO treaties—which includes multimillion-dollar fines and criminal penalties for captains and vessels—further demonstrates the likelihood of a robust US response to non-compliance. Similarly, whistleblower provisions will likely also bolster US enforcement of IMO 2020. Under US law, whistleblowers who report non-compliance can receive up to 50% of the monetary penalties levied against the owner, operator or vessel. With penalties in these cases exceeding tens of millions of dollars, the whistleblower provisions provide crew with a significant incentive to report non-compliance to US authorities. 

While direct liability of the owner and operator of the vessel is a primary concern, there are also varieties of implications non-compliance may have on other parties involved in the freight industry. For example, the detention of vessels and its owners or operators for non-compliance can also lead to delays in the shipment of goods and present significant obstacles and other logistical issues in getting a vessel released from US authorities. Moreover, the reputational harm that comes with non-compliance may also have a lasting effect on a shipper’s business. 

With IMO 2020 just around the corner, it is essential that all parties seek to implement robust compliance plans and due diligence of their counterparties—including charterparties, fellow shippers, vessel owners and operator and bunker fuel sale counterparties.

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David McCullough is a partner in the Energy & Infrastructure practice group at the New York office of Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP. Nicholas Hillman, with Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP in Washington DC, is not yet admitted to practice.

ocean

A Tough Year on the Water Hasn’t Dampened Innovation for these Ocean Carriers

To say that 2019 has been challenging for ocean carriers would be an understatement. The year began with the National Retail Federation forecasting a decline in year-over-year growth, echoing World Bank chatter of a slowing global economy.

And don’t forget the tariff wars between the U.S. and China (heck, the U.S. and just about anyone). Managing capacity on ships has also been an issue, and then there is the potential biggest bogeyman of all: the International Maritime Organization’s low-sulfur fuel mandate taking effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Sure, we could dwell on the gloom and doom, but that would not be very Global Trade magazine of us, now would it? We here in our silky ivory tower like to spotlight the positive, which we reveal with these ocean shippers we love.

MSC

Mediterranean Shipping Co. this year watched the world’s largest container ship, the MSC Gülsün, complete its maiden voyage from northern China to Europe. With a width of 197 feet and a length of 1,312 feet (!), the Gülsün was built by Samsung Heavy Industries at the Geoje shipyard in South Korea. It can carry up to 23,756 TEUs shipping containers on one haul. That capacity can include 2,000 refrigerated containers for shipping food, beverages, pharmaceuticals or any other chilled and frozen cargoes. That’s a lot of snow cones!

MOL

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines sees MSC Gülsün and raises you the MOL Triumph, which achieved a new world load record this year. Departing Singapore for Northern Europe on THE Alliance’s FE2 service with a cargo of 19,190 TEU. That surpassed the previous load record achieved in August 2018, when Mumbai Maersk sailed from Tanjung Pelepas to Rotterdam with 19,038 TEU onboard. Yes, you are correct, that’s a pretty slim margin of victory, and analysts suspect the MOL Triumph record won’t last long given the 23,000 TEU ships being introduced.

HYUNDAI MERCHANT MARINE 

Speaking of THE Alliance, current members Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and Yang Ming will be joined in April 2020 by Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM). The South Korean carrier recently signed an agreement to join THE Alliance and then passed the pen to the founding members, who extended the duration of their collaboration until 2030. “HMM is a great fit for THE Alliance as it will provide a number of new and modern vessels, which will help us to deliver better quality and be more efficient,” said Rolf Habben Jansen, Hapag-Lloyd’s chief executive. 

HAPAG-LLOYD

Oh, speaking of the fifth-largest container shipping company in the world, Hapag-Lloyd is piloting an online insurance product as part of a digital offering to try to overcome the widespread practice of shippers relying on the limited cover provided under the terms of carriers’ bills of lading. While Hapag-Lloyd says it takes the utmost care in transporting cargo, company officials acknowledge things can and have gone wrong. Thus, the introduction of Quick Cargo Insurance, which is underwritten by industrial insurer Chubb in Germany and is limited to containerized exports from that country, France and the Netherlands. However, the carrier says it plans to expand the offer.  

MAERSK

To navigate new environmental regulations, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is considering going old school. We mean really old school by using a modern version of the old-fashioned sail to help power its ships. Currently being tested on one of Maersk’s giant tankers, the sails look less like the flapping silk you know from Johnny Depp movies and Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt and more like huge marble columns. But they are nothing to laugh at as two 10-story-tall cylinders can harness enough wind to replace 20 percent of the ship’s fossil fuels, according to their maker, Norsepower Oy Ltd. 

MOL, THE SEQUEL

While we’re getting all green up in here, it’s worth also pointing out that Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. This year joined three other Japanese companies— Asahi Tanker Co., Exeno Yamamizu Corp., and Mitsubishi Corp.—in teaming up to build the world’s first zero-emission tanker by mid-2021. Their joint venture e5 Lab Inc. will power the vessel with large-capacity batteries and operate in Tokyo Bay, according to a statement the foursome released on Aug. 6. Thanks to the onslaught of legislation to improve environmental performance, other companies are also looking to battery power. Norway’s Kongsberg Gruppen is developing an electric container vessel, and Rolls-Royce Holdings last year that started offering battery-powered ship engines.

AMAZON

No, this is not a leftover strand from a different story in this magazine about moving packages on the ground. “Quietly and below the radar,” USA Today recently reported, “Amazon has been ramping up its ocean shipping service, sending close to 4.7 million cartons of consumers goods from China to the United States over the past year, records show.” While other ocean carrier leaders prepare for the bald head of Jeff Bezos, his move really should be no surprise given Amazon’s attempt to control as much of its transportation network as possible. (See my September-October issue story “Air War: Fast, Free Shipping has UPS, FedEx and Amazon Scrambling in the Air”). Of Amazon now floating into the sea, Steve Ferreira, CEO of Ocean Audit, a company that utilizes data and machine learning to find ocean freight refunds for the Fortune 500, told USA Today: “This makes them the only e-commerce company that is able to do the whole transaction from end-to-end. Amazon now has a closed ecosystem.” 

IMO 2020

IMO 2020: Understanding the Impact of Cutting Sulphur Oxide Emissions

As global shippers prepare for the busy season approaching, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has a new international regulation scheduled to begin the first of January. IMO 2020 is a regulation designed to reduce Sulphur oxide emissions from ships, which will reduce the harmful impact of the shipping industry’s byproduct fuel emissions. Lower sulfur emissions will improve air quality in port cities as well as lessen ocean acidification. With roughly four months remaining before the regulation is implemented, trans-ocean logistics companies are urging vessel owners to plan accordingly so they are not fined for surpassing the Sulphur limit specifications. 

The IMO 2020 regulation applies to all ships on international and domestic voyages. New IMO compliant fuels are being created, but due to limited supply and high demand, the price of the new fuel is expected to fluctuate. These additional costs can create a trickle-down effect, which has the potential to affect both vessel owners and shippers. Shippers will most likely find the cost of ocean transportation increasing as the marine sector must utilize these more costly fuels.

RTM Lines a respected trans-ocean transportation company providing, knowledgeable, cost-effective and professional expertise in the ocean transportation industry is committed to assisting our clients to navigate these changes. The new IMO 2020 regulation will affect the entire industry including a variety of vessel operators by reducing acceptable fuel sulfur content from 3.5% to 0.5%.  “Even the smallest amount of Sulphur will subject vessels to a fine or the ship will be pulled out of trade,” said Richard Tiebel, Head of Operations at RTM Lines. “The more proactive vessel owners are about reducing the amount of Sulphur there is in the fuel, the fewer problems they will have to deal with when the IMO 2020 regulations are in effect.” 

“Fuel treatment remains the most effective way to address compliance. However, fuel treatment is in short supply, so we will likely see higher costs for this service, ultimately coming out of the consumer’s pocket. Another solution is flushing of the tanks; this is costly in more ways than one as it has the potential to put a vessel out of commission for a significant amount of time. When weighing their options, shippers should consider capacity, as non-compliant vessels will be pulled out of service or denied entry at certain ports.” Tiebel said. 

Freight costs are already showing signs of an unpredictable landscape. Tiebel shared that, “A $20 difference between IFO 380 bunker and marine gas oil, adds an additional $2.50 per freight ton to breakbulk shipments on a booking note basis. Current and future bunker prices will be based on web-based bunker platform reports which will be provided along with the freight invoice.” In other words, shippers are starting to see an added invoice to charges previously quoted simply due to fuel changes. Furthermore, these charges are covered with right to adjust at time of quotation, time of loading, and at time of discharge.” 

Although the IMO 2020 regulation, has the potential to be more expensive, it can drastically reduce pollution in the environment. The move beyond traditional shipping fuels will transform the ocean shipping industry. These changes in the industry, though challenging, can make a significantly reduction in emissions and create a positive impact on the environment.

“I believe once IMO 2020 is implemented, it’s going to help the environment tremendously. Compliance will be a big step in bringing our industry up to date in protecting the marine environment we utilize. It is the key ingredient not only in ocean transport but in our lives and those of our families.” Tiebel concludes. 

How Clean Shipping Fuels Support Trillion-Dollar Investments

Implementing the use of clean fuels such as green ammonia creates the potential of trillion-dollar investment opportunities, specifically in developing countries, according to a report released by Ricardo Energy and Environment, commissioned by EDF. Identified by Sailing on Solar, the “green” alternative serves as an emissions-free substitute when used by shippers that produce it at-scale with untapped renewable energy resources. This approach ultimately eliminates fossil-fuel usage while offering a clean solution to modified shipping engines and hydrogen fuel cells.

Emissions-free shipping can be the engine that drives green development across the world,” Aoife O’Leary, senior legal manager at Environmental Defense Fund Europe, said. “The abundance and falling costs of untapped renewable resources like solar and wind energy in developing countries make the production of maritime fuels that emit no greenhouse gases a big potential investment opportunity where such production is undertaken by additional renewable capacity. And shippers can look forward to future running on the air, water, wind and sunlight that go into manufacturing new fuels like green ammonia.”

Additional findings from the research addressed the need for an established supply chain of green ammonia for the maritime sector, specifically calling out countries with renewable energy resources as a primary resource. While the IMO considers new policies to support the goal of cutting emissions in half, trillions of dollars in new investments are on the horizon if renewable energy alternatives are strategically implemented to alleviate financial strain for the production of sustainable alternative fuels.

“Countries must get serious about exploring international policies that can provide the incentive for alternative fuels like green ammonia and other sustainable shipping fuels to be adopted,” said O’Leary. “First movers will be able to benefit from investment in their economies towards additional renewable capacity whilst also gaining a competitive advantage as the shipping industry transitions to clean fuel. All that is needed to ensure this vision becomes reality is a sensible policy, including robust environmental safeguards, to allow the investment to flow.”

 

 

IMO’s 2020 Global Sulphur Cap: Industry Leaders Urge Proactive Preparations

As we approach the second month of 2019, global maritime industry experts continue to stress the importance of proactive preparations for the IMO’s 2020 global 0.5% fuel sulphur content
cap regulation effective January 1, 2020.

More recently, the CEO Aderco – a global leader in maritime fuel treatment solutions, urged others in the industry to carefully consider how much time is realistically left to thoroughly prepare. With less than a year left until the regulation is implemented, proactive preparations can eliminate avoidable fines and disrupted operations.

“The IMO sulphur cap starts on January 1 2020, but in reality the planning for compliance is just over a month away. By this March ship owners, ship managers and operators need to be lining up their treatments in preparation for the end of 2019 when they will be bunkering the new fuels.”

“Despite the recent highly publicized bans on open-loop scrubbers, fuel treatment remains the most cost-effective and simplest way to address compliance, as well as providing an extra bonus of helping to protect your marine diesel engines. In this vital run-up to the cap, flushing and cleaning of tanks prior to bunkering new fuel is the most imperative of the tasks needed to be tackled. Even the slightest amount of high-sulphur fuel remaining in the tank will mean non-compliance. Using fuel treatment from our recommended date of June this year should provide the necessary flushing and cleaning ready for the new fuel.”

“We have been advising our customers that compliance with the cap starts in the fuel tank and that now is the time to really start preparing for IMO 2020. With our fuel treatment solution, ship owners, ship managers and operators can rely on this proven method without having to worry about costly dry-docking or any off-hire. Our concern is that there will be some ships reaching the end of 2019 without being ready for the new fuels. The simplest and most cost-effective method is a fuel treatment.”

“With a strong focus likely to be on the shipping world and policing by Port State Control in the early part of 2020 for anyone not adhering to the new rules, the chances are that some will find themselves on the end of hefty fines and detentions for non-compliance. When all it takes is the addition of a fuel treatment it seems a small price to pay for peace of mind and operational efficiency.”

Source: Aderco