Ultra large container ships, autonomous vessels and the impact of M&A are under the spotlight for 2018.
2018 will have the highest number of ULCV deliveries on record. This could have an impact on the more stable supply and demand balance achieved in 2017.
COSCO is a force to be reckoned with – it is playing a pivotal role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, has been given a huge cash injection by the Chinese Government and sealing the deal is its takeover of OOCL this year.
Elsewhere, the container sectors of NYK, K Line and MOL are to start their joint service from 2018. This will boost their power and push them up the list of the world’s biggest liner companies.
The clock is ticking for 2020 global low sulphur cap compliance. Maersk has declared that it is putting pressure on IMO to ensure that the regulation is enforced. This pressure will only intensify in 2018.
Autonomous vessels have arrived in the container shipping industry. Kongsberg Maritime has joined forces with fertiliser producer Yara to build an autonomous box vessel that is due to be launched this year - paving the way for other container ship owners to follow suit.
COSCO’s OOCL takeover helps propel it to the top
COSCO will become even more of a super power this year and I believe that it could take on Maersk as largest container ship operator. The takeover of OOCL by COSCO, due to take place this year, is a signal of how powerful COSCO is becoming. It has enjoyed a huge cash injection by the Chinese Government to put towards its newbuild programme and it has a major role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, with its port division aggressively buying stakes in Europe and elsewhere.
NYK, K Line and MOL to revolutionise their box business with ONE
More consolidation will be seen this year as Japan’s NYK, MOL and K Line launch their combined container services under Ocean Network Express (ONE). Slated to start in April, it catapults the carriers into the top 10 global carriers and creates a fleet of 1.4M TEU. This will make them a much more powerful force within container shipping. MOL will become a “leaner, stronger business enterprise” that will be able “to compete with the world’s mega carriers” after the integration of its box business with those of NYK and K Line, MOL chief executive officer Junichiro Ikeda said in his 2017 New Year message.
2018 – highest year on record for ULCV deliveries
After several years or crashing freight rates and carriers losing huge sums of money, the markets became more stable last year, as the number of newbuilds being delivered slowed down as orders were deferred in efforts to align supply and demand. I think the industry could become unstable again this year as 2018 will have the highest number of ULCV deliveries on record. According to VesselsValue (as of September 2017), this figure stands at 1.12M TEU booked in for delivery, over double the amount delivered in 2017 (467,291 TEU).
Maersk north Asia boss: ‘Unscrupulous’ operators might not comply with 2020
As the 2020 global low sulphur cap deadline approaches, Maersk Group has raised concerns that some “unscrupulous” ship operators will not comply, Maersk chairman of China and chief representative of Maersk Group north Asia Tim Smith told Container Shipping & Trade in an exclusive interview. Mr Smith told Container Shipping & Trade “While it is the right thing to do, we are very concerned to make sure that it is fairly enforced. Because the cost of low sulphur fuel is so high, there is a big potential advantage for an unscrupulous operator not to comply with this.”
Maersk Group is campaigning for strict enforcement of the 2020 global sulphur cap. This is bound to be ramped up next year as 2020 approaches. As the world’s biggest container shipping line Maersk has a lot of clout, so its campaigning could lead to strict enforcement of the regulation.
Yara’s new vessel leads the way for autonomous box ships
Fertiliser production group Yara has begun working with Kongsberg Maritime to produce the world’s first fully electric and autonomous unmanned container ship, which will be delivered in 2018.
A major benefit is that the ship will remove the need for up to 40,000 lorry journeys each year with Yara Birkeland taking cargo via inland waterways. This will reduce costs significantly.
This project will not just impact Yara, it will have ramifications for the wider container ship industry. Europe has challenges with congested waterways, so the potential for projects such as this is huge. It paves the way for other autonomous container ships in the shortsea shipping sector.