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GSCW chat recap: Navigating volatility and unpredictability in container shipping

‘Containergeddon and the COVID impact is very short term but there’s some deeper, structural changes happening’

This fireside chat recap is from Day 7 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week. Day 7 focuses on global maritime logistics.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Managing volatility in ocean shipping

DETAILS: A look at recent changes in the fundamentals of ocean container shipping, some of which may be more structural in nature than many believe.

INTERVIEWER and SPEAKER: Steve Ferreira is the founder and CEO of Ocean Audit, a global refund audit consultancy, and Gordon Downes is the CEO of New York Shipping Exchange (NYSHEX), a facilitator of two-way committed ocean contracts between shippers and carriers.

BIO: Downes has a well-balanced perspective from all sides of the shipping industry. Prior to joining NYSHEX, he was an executive at SABMiller, a large multinational shipper. He has also held numerous leadership positions at Maersk Line and global freight forwarder Damco.


On whether recent changes are structural: “I think there’s a lot of reasons why this could be the beginning of a structural shift. [There are] two very important reasons most people may not be thinking about. The first one is the way in which carriers are operating through alliances, which fundamentally changes the supply-and-demand imbalance. The other one is the IMO emissions goals and how that might cause carriers to be a little bit more hesitant to order new ships and therefore constrain supply a little bit and of course that could have a big impact on the market.” 

On the impact of alliances on capacity: “That changes the dynamic. I think what we’re going to see is less excess capacity in terms of vessels deployed in networks and that’s going to certainly create more outside price stability in the market.”

On the impact of IMO standards on new ship ordering: “In 2010, the order book of the top five carriers was 28%. If you look at the Alphaliner data today, the order book of the top five carriers is only 8% of the fleet. So the amount of new vessels coming into the service networks is actually declining as a result of this need for the propulsion systems and the technology, etc. to be innovated in order to meet those carbon-emissions goals.”

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Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.