Monday, 26 January 2009

Port gets £20m EU funding for rail links

EUROPEAN funding of £20 million is to be sought towards a £100m project to improve rail links to and from the Port of Felixstowe.

The application is almost complete - and MEPs in the region hope a decision could be known by May.

They say the boost in rail cargo could bring more jobs to the Felixstowe area and also take hundreds of thousands of lorries a year off the region's roads.Suffolk Labour MEP Richard Howitt held talks with management at the port and union officials to discuss the grant application - not seeing the port at its best on a wet and miserable day.

The project will improve the cross-country freight route which runs from Felixstowe to Nuneaton (F2N) and enable the port to send containers easily to ports in the Midlands and the north of England.

When linked to a £40m scheme to dual four-and-a-half miles of the Felixstowe-Ipswich rail line, it will increase the number of daily trains at the port from 26 to 40.“

We are applying for £20m from the European fund and we will formally submit the bid by April and could get a decision as soon as May,” said Mr Howitt.“

We have been talking about this for many years and it is time the talking stopped and action started.

“People want to see these improvements and this investment will allow the amount of cargo going by rail to increase, taking lorries off the roads, and enabling more jobs to be created.”

DP World reviews expansion plans

CONTAINER terminal giant DP World is reviewing its expansion strategy, cutting costs and freezing recruitment in response to the global downturn in box volumes.

The Dubai-based operator, with ongoing box terminal construction projects at London Gateway and Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte 2, expects the “increasingly challenging macroeconomic environment” in the second half of last year to “remain for the foreseeable future”.

Chief financial officer Yuvraj Narayan told Reuters that DP World did not believe there would be pronounced job cuts, but it was in no hurry to expand through acquisitions until the market stabilises.

He said that the results of the expansion review would be completed in a month and that the company would announce its results and outlook in March. “The management has initiated broad measures to cut normal costs like travel. There is a general freeze on recruitment and a close review of replacements as far as headcounts are concerned.”

DP World’s senior vice-president and managing director for Europe & Russia, Flemming Dalgaard, confirmed that London Gateway was included in the review of capital expenditure, along with all the other developments in Europe, but added that no decisions had as yet been taken.

Drewry consultants ports director Neil Davidson said: “DP World is currently faced with the same challenges that all other port operators and developers are faced with — that is, the need to deal with this unprecedented slowdown in growth in the short term. “

This may well mean delaying or slowing down capacity expansion projects. For DP World this will almost certainly include reviewing the timing of projects such as London Gateway and Rotterdam Maasvlakte II. However, the long term rationale for such projects remains very sound in my view.”

Only last week, HSBC Bank forecast a 3% shrinkage for global container volumes in 2009, against an historic average annual increase of 10% for the past 30 years.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Result of tug drivers ballot.

176 voted for the new break pattern
66 voted against.

In reply to the comment below, the new breaks will start on 1st Feb 2009. Don't forget this is a three month trial.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

CSCL forecasts 50% profit plunge

CHINA Shipping Container Lines warned of more than a 50% drop in profit in 2008.

The company issued a profit warning last night that its net profit for last year could fall to Yuan1.66bn ($243m) or lower.

CSCL, the country’s second largest container shipping line by capacity, earned net profit of Yuan 3.32bn in 2007.

“In 2008, the volume of container loaded cargoes exported from China decreased significantly, the traditional peak season for cargo volume did not appear and the loading rate of container vessels dropped sharply,” said the company in a statement.

“At the same time, the price of crude oil kept soaring in the first half of ’08, which caused the operation costs of liner shipping companies to be maintained at a high level, together with the failure to smoothly implement each of the plans to increase freight rate, resulted in a sharp reduction in operating profits.”

CSCL posted a net loss of Yuan271.66m for the third quarter last year, although the company said it saw a net profit of Yuan426.99m for the first nine months of last year. There were no comparable results for 2007.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A14 Resurfacing.


Resurfacing of A14 Port of Felixstowe Road (Eastbound & Westbound)
Atkins Limited, working on behalf of the Highways Agency, will start nightly A14 eastbound carriageway resurfacing (weather permitting) between junction 61, Felixstowe South Interchange and Junction 62, Dock Gate No.1 Roundabout on Wednesday 28 January 2009 (working hours 8pm to 6am) and each subsequent night until 6am on Saturday 31 January 2009.
Westbound resurfacing between the Junction 61 on slip road and the Dock spur Rail Bridge will overlap with the last night of the eastbound work Friday to Saturday and then two nights from 8pm on Monday 1 February finishing at 6am on Wednesday 4 February 2009 (note no weekend working).
The carriageway resurfacing affects both lanes in each direction and to carry out the resurfacing safely will require a full A14 carriageway closure of firstly the eastbound side and then the westbound side as work takes place. The limits of this full carriageway closure are; between the start of the Junction 61 entry and exit slip roads and the Dock Gate No.1 roundabout entry and exit on the A14.
Throughout the period of both phases of the resurfacing works a signed diversion route will operate using the A154 Trinity Avenue, Dock Gate No.2 roundabout and the A154 Walton Avenue to the Dock Gate No.1 roundabout at the A14. When westbound carriageway works take place, traffic will be held on Trinity Avenue at a red light signal to await convoy along the A14 westbound at slow speed through the last part of the works about 800 metres.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Research by Unite into redundancies and job losses in companies and sectors covered by the union.

Please click on the link above for more information.

The Research Department has created a national database to track current
and prospective closures and job losses across the sectors and regions
covered by Unite. The purpose of this database is to provide regular updates
and readily accessible information to officers and staff on the effects of the
recession in the UK economy.
The database draws together information sourced from members, activists,
workplace reps, officers in the field, the media and the research department’s
own online resources from July 2008 onwards on the following:
• Companies involved
• Sectors
• Locations
• Total numbers employed on site
• Unite/union membership on site
• Number of jobs lost
• Closure dates
• Any other measures being used: pay cuts, short time working, outsourcing
and off shoring of jobs etc.
• Other key dates: when redundancies are happening, consultation and
negotiation periods etc.
• Unite Officer covering site
• Order book information
As part of a separate project the West Midlands Region has been drawing
together local information under similar headings since the beginning of 2007.
Much of this information has been incorporated into the Research Department

Stena to pull out ro-pax vessel from North Sea service

STENA Line is set to withdraw one of its ropax vessels operating on the Rotterdam-Harwich route from March 1, blaming the severe downturn in the British economy.

Stena Line North Sea area director Pim de Lange told Lloyd’s List the Europoort-Harwich route would go from a three-vessel operation to two.

Box trades from Asia 'unlikely to get much worse';jsessionid=13ACF267B6D9FF17300DC35DFDA41111

MARKET conditions on the container trades from Asia are unlikely to get much worse, but no improvement is expected in 2009, according to a report from JP Morgan.

“Currently, we believe, the freight rates in Asia-Europe are below the variable costs and the freight rates in transpacific are only a touch above — both markets are loss-making, factoring in fixed costs,” said Hong Kong-based JP Morgan analyst Johnson Lueng, in a report on the Asia Pacific container shipping sector.

“We do not expect any meaningful improvement this year, but we believe the trade is unlikely to get a lot worse, as operators are likely to save some losses by parking their ships rather than running them.”

On the Asia-Europe trade, with container rates below variable cost, carriers were seen as losing their incentive to run services.

Variable cost from Asia-Europe was estimated at $489 per teu while the all in freight rate was put at just $400 per teu, which after stripping out bunker and terminal handling charges puts the freight portion at almost zero.

The transpacific trade turned loss-making in November, with a 30% drop in the contracted freight rate.

As with Asia-Europe, the rate was seen as barely covering variable costs, leaving little incentive to lines to run services.

Overall average losses per teu on the Asia-Europe and Asia-US West Coast trades at current freight rates and bunker prices were estimated at $524 and $184 per teu respectively.

On the one side profitability was not expected to get any worse but on the other improvement was not expected either.

Profitability was not expected to worsen as the lack of profitability meant some operators would rather not run their ships; the impact of lower operating costs such bunkers and equipment rentals; and the worst of the volume contraction may have been seen brought about by the credit crunch in October and November.

However, improvement was also seen as unlikely due to peak capacity growth being postponed from the fourth quarter of last year to first quarter 2009, and the retail industry in the US and Europe was yet to hit a bottom.

The pushing of newbuildings scheduled for delivery in November and December last year into this year has made the orderbook for 2009 substantially larger than before.

“The challenging environment could continue in 2010 until a demand recovery narrows the demand-supply gap and improves the level of profitability in the sector,” the report said.

Bristol box terminal plans set to proceed on fast track;jsessionid=8F36A32D7175BE6CC147B804377BE8DD

BRISTOL Port Co is hoping for swift approval of its plans for a deepsea container terminal, following confirmation that no public inquiry will be required, writes Felicity Landon.

The Department for Transport has written a letter to the port accepting that the port has reached agreement with all former objectors.

The Bristol Port Company plans to create a deep water container terminal at Avonmouth.

As one of the country's fastest growing ports Bristol is developing its role as a gateway container port for the UK and a transshipment point for the Atlantic seaboard and Europe.

The port has excellent rail and road links, it is close to a large part of the UK's container market, and there is a deep water channel in the Severn Estuary already used by the port. As a result of these inherent advantages Bristol Port plans to expand its facilities with a new deep sea container terminal (DSCT) in the Bristol Channel. The terminal is designed to service not only today’s largest container vessels, but also future generations of ultra large container ships (ULCS) when they enter service.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Euro MPs warn over UK ports rates crisis

HIGHER charges in UK ports as a result of the huge business rates bills hitting port occupiers could see cargoes move to other EU ports and force more goods to be transported by air, three Euro-MPs have warned.

In a letter to local government minister John Healey, Liberal Democrat MEPs Chris Davies, Fiona Hall and Diana Wallis, representing North West, North East and Yorkshire/Humber, have now declared their support for the campaign against the new rating system in ports and asked Mr Healey to reconsider its implementation.

“We are concerned that the impact of this revaluation will particularly threaten the competitiveness of the ports in or regions of the northeast, northwest and the Humber,” they said.

The MEPs said two issues concerned them in particular.

“First, we believe that the rating revaluation will bring about extra costs and thus an increasing burden for ports on the east coast of England,” the letter said. “We believe these rising costs will see competition being lost to other EU ports which are in direct competition, not least to Rotterdam. The evidence provided by research into maritime logistics is that port cargo handling charges is one of the key determinants of competitiveness.”

The second concern was that higher charges in UK ports would force more and more goods to be transported by air. “International air freight traffic has increased substantially over the past few years, particularly in the transportation of foodstuffs. Air miles increased by 31% in 2006 compared with the previous year and has grown by 37% since 1992. Air freight is the highest emitter of CO2 per tonne of food and is responsible for 11% of emissions.”

The government has so far refused to back down on the rates crisis that is hitting statutory ports around England and Wales, in which port tenants are receiving massive and unexpected bills backdated by three years because the Valuation Office Agency failed to carry out the necessary revaluations by 2005.

The subject will be raised in the House of Commons next Monday evening, when Labour MP and transport select committee chairman Louise Ellman has secured an end-of-day debate. She will have 20 minutes to explain the main points to MPs.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Asia-Europe spot box rates plunge to zero dollars

AS THE global financial crisis continues, Asia-Europe spot container freight rates have dropped to an unprecedented low of zero dollars, with cargo owners just paying for bunkers.

Industry sources in Singapore said there were a growing number of boxes being shipped from Asia to Europe at freight rate of zero dollars with lines merely charging bunkers and other surcharges on top.

Rates from South China to Europe have been offered at a freight rate of $0.00 plus bunker adjustment factor for sometime now.

Initially it would appear lines offered ‘all in rates’ which were similar in quantum but the lines involved could at least manage not to reduce the bunker adjustment factor when bunker prices fell further.

Spot box rates from North Asia are quoted at $200 all in, which leaves little, if any, real freight rate beyond fuel cost recovery.

Andersen warns global box trade will shrink;jsessionid=224DF4EF3A58E5FD2BB31B361B5996CF

AP MOLLER-Maersk chief executive Nils Andersen forecasts that global container shipping volumes will contract this year and the market will be tough into 2010.

“It is realistic to say global trade will contract this year. Forecasts we are seeing will point to a contraction this year,” Mr Andersen said.

While he would not say how much global container volumes would contract in 2009, he made it clear the industry was in for a rough ride that would most likely last well into the following year.

“It’s fair to say 2009 will be very tough, and probably 2010 will be very tough as well. If the improvement comes before the end of 2010 we will be positively surprised. It is our job to prepare for tough times,” he said.

Mr Andersen also warned: “The present rates will not allow lines to sustain operations on a long term basis.”

He refused to be drawn as to whether the tough market conditions would result in some lines going under, merely noting that Maersk itself was well placed to ride out the downturn.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Holiday entitlement.

Just had a call from the union office, they've had a few calls from people this morning about holiday entitlement on the LMS. Don't worry it's just a glitch in the system and your proper entitlement will be back in a few days.