Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 05/02/2019
1. Customs Checks to Stop
The UK government is making bold unilateral moves to avoid the potential impact of a “no-deal” Brexit on Britain’s seaports. Her administration has already contracted with three freight ferry operators for extra cross-Channel capacity, and on Monday, it announced that most truck-borne EU goods will not be subjected to time-consuming inspections upon arrival. In the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, British customs officials “will allow most goods moving from  listed roll on roll off locations to leave the UK port or train station before you’ve told us that the goods have arrived,” HMRC has told importers.
2. Venezuela Flotilla Grows
A flotilla loaded with about 7 million barrels of Venezuelan oil has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, some holding cargoes bought ahead of the latest U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and others whose buyers are weighing who to pay, according to traders, shippers and Refinitiv Eikon data. The Trump administration’s move to impose sanctions last week was meant to undercut support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by targeting the Latin American nation’s oil exports to the United States, the source of most of its foreign revenue. The sanctions aim to block U.S. refiners from paying into PDVSA accounts.
3. Ocean Colour Scene
Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, and a new Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) study finds that over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean’s color, intensifying its blue and green regions. Satellites are expected to detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems. A global model that simulates the growth and interaction of different species of phytoplankton, or algae, and how the mix of species in various locations will change as temperatures rise around the world.
4. Tightening Up Maritime Security
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced its 2019 – 2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, during an event held at the National Press Club on Monday. One of the top 10 items on the List was “Eliminate Distractions” with the NTSB stating: “Contributing to the distraction problem is the widespread belief by many that they can multi-task and still safely operate a vessel. But multi-tasking is a myth; humans can only focus cognitive attention on one task at a time.” The NTSB says vessel operators don’t always have their eyes or minds on the waterway.
5. New Fuel Futures
The first trade executed on the new Singapore FOB Marine Fuel 0.5% (Platts) futures contract was brokered on the basis of $200 spread with high sulphur fuel (HFO) in December this year. The first such contract was brokered by Freight Investor Services (FIS) at the start of February on the basis of a $200 per tonne spread between 0.5% fuel oil and Singapore 380 HFO in December just before the 0.5% sulphur cap comes into force on 1 January 2020. The contract is designed to provide a degree certainty over fuel price once full demand for 0.5% low sulphur ramps up.
6. Singapore Building Opportunity
The effects of HHI’s takeover of Daewoo spells opportunities for Singapore’s maritime players. The time may be ripe for Singapore’s shipyards to join forces to stand head-to-head with Korea’s firms currently undergoing short-term distress brought about by their consolidation plan. Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) are embarking on the massive task of completing their take-over deal and processing the restructuring exercise which could just be the chance that Keppel Corp, Sembcorp Industries (SCI) and Sembcorp Marine (Sembmarine) need to wrestle market share.
7. Ballast Water Management Thoughts
ABS recently issued questionnaires and hosted Ballast Water Management (BWM) Workshops, receiving feedback from across the globe from shipowners and operators with BWM systems installed onboard their vessels. “As ships come into compliance with ballast water management requirements, it is important to consider some of the common system challenges and best practices for operating these systems,” said ABS Senior Vice President for Engineering and Technology, Derek Novak.
8. Team Lines Folds
The fiercely competitive world of feeder box shipping has claimed another victim. Hamburg-based Team Lines will cease operating from February 11. The company cited deteriorating market conditions in northern Europe as well as the ongoing consolidation within the liner sector for its demise in a letter to clients signed by top management, Alexander Saverys, part of the Compagnie Maritime Belge clan, and Benjamin Weinacht.
9. Reefer Vessels No More
Analysts at Dynamar expect conventional reefer ships to become an “endangered species” in a new report. An ageing fleet, new IMO environmental regulations and encroaching volumes now shipped on container vessels have all transpired to make the reefer vessel a ship type on the wane. Last year, seaborne transport of fresh produce carried in both conventional reefer ships and refrigerated containers was estimated to have grown by around 5% to 116m tons Until the turn of the century, conventional reefer ships were the main fresh produce carriers. That has fallen, considerably, and it was just 18% in 2017.
10. New Vision for Maritime
The Portuguese government has announced an initiative aimed at accelerating the creation of smart technology start-ups in the shipping and ports sectors, according to a statement. Named ‘Bluetech Accelerator – Ports & Shipping 4.0’, the programme is being led by the Minister of the Sea of Portugal and is designed to make the country a world leader in smart technology innovation. The government has said it has already established a coalition of stakeholders, including shipping groups Portline Group and ETE Group, the ports of Sines and Leixoes and digital and robotics companies to identify and finance start-ups.
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