Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Unifeeder expands to the UK

Shortsea operator Unifeeder has launched a network of services calling at ports on the UK east coast.

The line is using three containerships on three loops between Felixstow, Grangemouth, Immingham, Teesport and South Shields and its mainland European hubs at Hamburg and Rotterdam.

There will also be one vessel a week from Felixstowe to the port of Tyne, returning to Rotterdam.

Unifeeder CEO Jesper Kristensen said: “The expansion into the UK is a major and strategically important decision.

“The new service brings opportunities to link the UK with major continental hubs as well as with the company’s existing destinations in Scandinavia and around the Baltic Sea”.;jsessionid=F7C7E99214027211262B34B96140AF60.5fa4e8cc80be35e2653c9f87d8b8be45bf6ba69a

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Container volumes heading for new heights

Container volumes will continue to surge during the peak season, following this year’s record volumes for the month of May.

Researcher Macquarie’s Global Container Index, which is based on the aggregation of volumes from almost 200 container ports in 58 countries, showed box volumes reached a record high in May, up 1% on the previous peak recorded in May 2008, and up 18% year-on-year.

If the trend continues through June, Macquarie’s estimated global throughput growth of 17% year-on-year for the second quarter of 2010, would be a record high for an individual quarter.

And it predicts volumes will continue to surge during the third quarter, growing 14-15% year-on-year.

It said: “Based on typical seasonal trends, in which third-quarter volumes typically exceed those seen in the previous quarter by around 4%, it is likely that Q3 2010 will prove a record by some distance.”

“Two key reasons suggest to us that volumes will remain strong during this period: our analysis of inventories in Europe and the US suggests the main benefit from re-stocking may be still to come; and in importing regions, such as the US, the ratio of containerised imports to end demand remains low for both consumer and industrial goods.”

Macquarie said it had argued against the popular perception held about the reasons behind volume booms reported earlier this year. These suggested that container volumes during the first quarter included significant one-off benefits from the re-stocking of empty shelves.

It said that, following the consistently strong volumes reported during April and May, its stance on the issue has become more widely accepted, and added that research suggested that major inventory re-stocking had yet to take place, and would boost volumes further.

“The observation that the main benefit from re-stocking for global freight volumes may have yet to come is an important one,” Macquarie said

“While our view that re-stocking has not driven volumes to unsustainable levels may have become accepted, we do not believe that the consensus view is considering the prospect of an increase in re-stocking benefits.

“If this view does prove correct, the potential for volumes to strengthen in the near-term should not be ruled out, particularly on the [westbound] Asia-Europe and [eastbound] transpacific routes, where volumes are driven, respectively, by European and North American imports.”;jsessionid=42ED8D5681990B2421D3ECD48F93395B.065acf6a61c52eed94766d1ba7da5d95d4ecd58a

Friday, 25 June 2010

This happens all the time and nobody seems interested.

Friday Focus -- Weighing containers: is it really that difficult?

In 2007, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published a report concerning an incident that occurred while the 868teu containership Annabella was in the Baltic Sea. The following year, it published another report, this time concerning the loss of the 4,419teu MSC Napoli, which had to be run aground on a UK beach to avoid it sinking in the Channel.

These two incidents led to the publication, by the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council, of Safe Transport of Containers by Sea – Guidelines on Best Practices.

These two august bodies stated categorically that overloading a container is something which can never be condoned and that the party stuffing the container is responsible for ensuring that its gross mass is in accordance with the gross mass given on the shipping documents. Furthermore, the guidelines state that terminal operators should verify the weights of incoming containers before they are loaded.

Despite this, nothing seems to be happening to ensure that weighing takes place, and the container shipping industry continues to rely on shippers being accurate and honest when they declare the weight of their cargo to the carriers.

When in January 2010, the media reported the MAIB’s preliminary examination result into the loss of 18 containers over the side of the 910teu Husky Racer while berthed in Bremerhaven, the issue of weighing containers was again in the spotlight. It became very apparent that many people in the container industry were still unsure of how container weights could be verified with any reliability.

Interestingly, the question whether to weigh or not to weigh is also being asked in the ro-ro sector, and not just because many of these vessels carry containers as well as trailers. As the MAIB pointed out in its report into the stranding of the ro-ro vessel Riverdance on a beach at Blackpool, there is no requirement to weigh trailers before they are loaded onto ro-ro vessels – those permitted to carry 12 passengers or less.

There is plenty of evidence, mostly anecdotal, but some more authoritative, indicating that shippers cannot always be relied upon to make accurate weight declarations when booking cargo. Yet carriers still accept declared weights and rarely seek verification.

Over the past three years, container handling equipment manufacturers have been addressing this issue and it would appear that there are now practical and affordable solutions available. But there is, however, still no sign that the weighing of containers in ports will become routine. As a result, road hauliers continue to be prosecuted for running overweight, stevedore and seafarer lives are at risk and on-deck container stacks collapse.

Clearly, it is time for the industry to convene and discuss the various issues surrounding misdeclared container weights. As a first step,UK-based maritime PR company Dunelm has organised a one-day conference in London on 29 June, entitled Weighing containers: is it really that difficult?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Record cargo volumes in Asia

Chinese ports and airports have reported record monthly throughputs in May, exceeding analysts’ forecasts and confirming a rebound in Asia’s cargo volumes.

China’s container ports handled a record 12.4 million teu last month, which was 21.9% higher than the volumes in May 2009 and 16.6% higher than the same month in 2008.

Paris-based analyst AXS Alphaliner said Ningbo, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Xiamen and Dalian all posted their highest-ever monthly liftings on record

Maersk to use laid-up ships to ferry boxes to China

Maersk Line is bringing in laid-up ships to ferry containers to Asia in an attempt to address the box shortage that is set to hamper the industry during the peak season.

The Danish carrier said it had re-activated laid-up vessels to assist in repositioning containers as quickly as possible.

It has also kickstarted production of new containers and leasing of containers.

Because of the extra costs associated with combating the container shortage, Maersk last week announced a record peak-season surcharge (PSS) of US$750 per 20ft, $1,000 per 40ft and $1,200 per 40ft high-cube container on westbound services to Northern Europe from 15 July.

On westbound services to the Mediterranean, the surcharge will be $600 per 20ft, $800 per 40ft and $1,000 per 40ft high-cube.

The line said: “The surcharge will assist Maersk Line in recovering the higher costs caused by the increased volumes and equipment shortage, for example, port costs, vessels deployed to reposition containers and leasing [more containers].”

Board member Lars Reno Jakobsen, Head of Network and Product, said: “The present market situation is unique. We are experiencing a demand surge in most trades, which is a development that is both unprecedented and unexpected by us and our customers.

“For example, the Asia-Europe trade is growing by 23%, compared with the market’s single-digit expectation just six months ago.

“Therefore, we already see a very tight equipment situation. And we expect an even more pronounced and serious shortage of containers in the coming months, as we enter the peak season.”

The Danish carrier said the shortage stemmed from a lack of orders for new containers during and following the recession.

Maersk said it would only apply one PSS during the peak season to make the situation more transparent for customers.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that two deepsea carriers are looking to introduce equipment re-positioning surcharges because of a shortage of containers.

Over recent weeks, forwarders and shipping lines have been warning that there could be an equipment shortage during the peak season.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Teesport containers up 70%

Teesport is reporting a 70% year-on-year increase in volumes at its two container terminals so far this year, and is targeting a throughput of 263,000 teu for the full-year 2010.

Operated by PD Ports, Teesport bucked the trend with a 20% increase in volumes through its container terminals last year, to 193,000 teu.

This included a 51% increase in volumes in the second half of the year, after the opening of the new Tesco import centre at Tees Dock.

“Quite frankly, we are blistering ahead of the rest at the moment,” said PD Ports CEO David Robinson.

“I don’t think anybody else would be looking to a 70% growth rate. We also had a record month on our container terminals in May.”

If boxes handled on ro-ro services into the port are added in, Teesport handled a total 414,000teu last year.

PD’s portcentric relationships - where retailer warehouses are based on, or near, port property - are at the centre of this dramatic growth, Robinson said.

As well as the Tesco facility, the Teesport is also home to an Asda import centre, with Asda George at nearby Darlington, a tea and coffee import facility for Taylors of Harrogate, and a new facility for chemicals giant Sabic just outside the dock estate.

“We are targeting a throughput of 263,000teu this year and we are on course for that,” said Robinson.

PD has drawn up plans to increase capacity on its container terminals from 250,000 to 450,000 teu a year, by upgrading yard, infrastructure, IT and purchasing rubber-tyred gantry cranes.

“We would expect, by 2013-1 to be a 600,000teu port, not 400,000,” said Mr Robinson.

“We will be one of the major UK container ports and our ability to put the Tees into the 1 million teu category of port is well within our reach in the next five to 10 years.”

PD’s plans for a new deepwater container terminal are still “in our sights”, he added.

PD is also looking to purchase more land in the near future to support expected growth in containers and portcentric operations.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Upgrade for Southampton berth

The UK’s second busiest container terminal, DP World Southampton, is upgrading its shipside capability by deepening container berths and adding ship-to-shore cranes.

The dredging will increase the depth of berths 205, 206 and 207 to 14 metres, 14.6 metres and 15 metres, respectively. And DP World Southampton has placed an order with Liebherr for two super-post-panamax cranes.

The new cranes, due to be delivered in the first quarter of 2011, will mean that 50% of the terminal’s 10-crane fleet are of super-post-panamax design, having an outreach across 22 containers.

Chris Lewis, DP World Southampton MD, said: “The terminal continues to meet the ongoing industry trend towards larger containerships.”;jsessionid=F43875723A883B7EB37A7B134828923C.5fa4e8cc80be35e2653c9f87d8b8be45bf6ba69a

Felixstowe port project "on target" - more than 3 million m3 of material dredged to date

The latest chapter in Costain's long-running relationship with the Port of Felixstowe is now less than a year away from its targeted completion, with the team behind the current Felixstowe South Reconfiguration project aiming to bring it in on time despite the past winter's abysmal weather.

The first phase - 440m of quay - has been completed and handed over for delivery of the new quay cranes. The second section, involving a 300m length, is now underway, together with paving work inland.

The freezing winter weather early in 2010 presented a number of challenges in the first phase due to the low temperatures affecting the laying of the concrete sub-base, says Deputy Project Director Nigel Desert.

Although the team was able to claw back some of the deficit, losing that amount of time close to the end of that section of the project had an inevitable effect on handover schedules.

Nevertheless, the aim is still to finish the second stretch of quayside by 12 September and the overall project on time in May 2011.

The new quay wall consists of 2.56m diameter piles capped with site-fabricated precast concrete units, the heaviest of which weighs 90 tonnes.

The project requires huge amounts of fill; to date, more than 3 million m³ of material has been dredged from the seabed just outside the port and from off Great Yarmouth.

As well as the quaysides themselves, which will offer deeper berths for the largest container vessels, there is also a huge expanse of container stacking areas to complete on the 35-hectare site, requiring more than 18 million paving blocks.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Lower emissions from Felixstowe

The Port of Felixstowe has announced an 8% cut in its carbon emissions in 2009. The amount of carbon dioxide was reduced from 19.8kg to 19kg in 2009 alone, and the port is confident of a further downward trend over the coming year.

The port said this was due to its constant investment in new equipment and upgrading to more carbon efficient machinery, for example, new low emission RTGs.

Felixstowe is also progressing various other projects to improve its environmental performance. These include working with the Carbon Trust to develop its carbon management programme, and reducing energy used in buildings as well as increasing the amount of waste sent for recycling.