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Port Report: Container ship industry gets capacity discipline, setting up tighter 2019

Port of Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal ( Photo: Port of Houston )

Port of Houston faces choice as to which ships to prioritize; U.K. Parliament turmoil leaves Brexit deal in doubt.

Container supply-demand balance appears firmer

The ocean carriers appear to be hitting peak ship in terms of fleet size as the carrier’s focus now turns to being more horizontally integrated along the supply chain. Maritime consultancy Drewry reduced its forecast for the number of new ship orders from 2020 onwards. Among major carriers, only Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine has shown an appetite for expanding its fleet, with a $2.6 billion order, underwritten by the Korean government, for 20 mega container ships. With no reciprocal orders coming from competitors, Drewry researcher Simon Heaney says ocean carriers are showing better capacity discipline. “The industry’s supply-demand balance will benefit from a reduced appetite for ultra large container vessels among the large carriers.” Instead of further investing in shipping, the ocean carriers “have their eyes fixed on a bigger prize of becoming global logistics integrators.” This year, Drewry is expecting supply growth of just 2.5 percent in the world container ship fleet, against a demand forecast of 4 percent growth in container throughput. Moreover, the looming deadline for shipowners to burn low-sulfur marine fuel will also keep supply tight as ships are retrofitted with exhaust gas scrubbers or otherwise sent to scrapyards.

 Houston facing choices on how to use port

A battle is shaping up in Galveston Bay among competing interests at the eighth largest U.S. container port in terms of throughput. The Coalition for a Fair and Open Port, which is comprised of major energy producers, is trying to get the Port of Houston to limit the number of container ships coming in and out of the port as the mega-ships are causing delays for tankers. Harbor pilots restrict traffic to one direction when they move container ships due to their size. So far, the container ships may be winning as the Port of Houston has largely refused to limit container ship movements into the Port of Houston. Energy products still remain the main commodity coming into the Port of Houston with $1.7 billion worth of fuels and oils received at the Port last October, U.S. Census Bureau data show, up 39 percent from a year ago. Other major imports include boilers and machinery for use in petrochemical plants and refineries and steel products, which includes pipelines.  



Maersk looking to rebuild fire-struck ship

The Maersk Honam will be cut in two and set to Korea for rebuilding  (World Maritime News)

Port of Singapore Authority sees 9 percent growth last year

Total volumes of 81 million teu in containers was spread between Singapore and outside terminals (Lloyd’s List)

ABP set to boost investment in U.K. port

Associated British Ports is making the investment in the Port of Hull (The Loadstar)

Port of Virginia sets new record for container cargo

Port hits 2.85 million teu in containers, a 1.5 percent gain over 2017  (AJOT)

Shanghai hits ninth year as largest container port

Chinese port handled 42 million teu in containers last year, up 4 percent (Splash 24/7)

U.K.’s messy divorce from Europe not getting easier

As FreightWaves reported yesterday, a major resignation has hit the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday. Parliament member Gareth Johnson resigned over May’s strategy for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. His departure may signal a heavy defeat for May, potentially leading to her resignation and leaving her Brexit deal in doubt. That would keep the uncertainty going for U.K. companies in how they handle trade relations with their largest trading partner.

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