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May 3, 2023

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) seized the Panama-flagged VLCC Niovi in the Strait of Hormuz, the second such incident in less than a week. Footage released by the US Naval Forces Central Command 5th Fleet showed eleven small boats approaching the vessel, forcing it to change course and sail for Iranian waters. The tanker was heading southbound in Omani territorial waters when the AIS signal went offline. Over the past two years, Iran has harassed, attacked, or interfered with the navigational rights of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels.

The 1997-built Pablo, an aframax tanker, suffered an explosion off the coast of southern Malaysia, with almost the entire deck of the ship being blown into the sky. Three crew members are presumed dead, and investigations into the accident are underway. The ship, owned by Marshall Islands-based Pablo Union Shipping, issued a distress call after a blaze was detected. The ship was in ballast from China to the United Arab Emirates when the incident occurred.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BB&B), a US retailer, has filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) against OOCL, seeking $37.65m for exploitative and unjust business practices during the pandemic. The complaint includes OOCL’s failure to meet contracted minimum quantity commitments of cargo, which were sold to higher-paying customers, resulting in BB&B having to pay higher costs. The filing also includes details of numerous other problems, including surcharges and D&D charges incurred due to social distancing orders, shipping line policies, and congestion. BBB has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Newnew Shipping, a subsidiary of logistics group Torgmoll, has bought the 2007-built Northern Debonair for $15m and will operate the China-Baltic & Black Sea service. Newnew also offers a China-Russia Far East service. This move follows other new players entering the fray in Russia after most global liners pulled back due to the war between Russia and Ukraine last year. Rates for these services are reportedly highly elevated.

Three crew members were abducted when the Grebe Bulker, a 2010-supramax owned by Eagle Bulk, was attacked by pirates at the Owendo Anchorage in Gabon. The incident occurred in a region that has seen several attacks by pirates in recent years. The ship remains anchored, and the rest of the crew is unharmed.

Crowley, a US-based logistics solutions provider, plans to introduce an integrated ocean and rail service that links Mexico, the US Midwest, and Canada. The company’s new service will offer an ocean route from Tuxpan, Mexico, to Mobile, Alabama, that will connect with Canadian National Railway Company’s (CN) rail service. It is set to enhance customer solutions in the North American market, and customers can expect more efficient and environmentally friendly transit times compared to truck emissions. The weekly round trips will commence in September, carrying up to 1,000 TEU containers and over 200 refrigerated containers.

Monaco-based Scorpio Tankers is looking for a new financing deal of $750m to $1bn, comprising a 50% term loan and 50% revolving loan. The funds will be used to repay existing lease financing and refinance certain vessels. The deal’s final maturity will be five years from the signing date, no later than 30 June 2028, with an expected interest rate of SOFR plus a margin of 1.95% per annum. Scorpio Tankers, which owns and operates 113 product tankers, has already executed three separate refinancing deals worth up to $391.5m in aggregate, collateralised by 22 vessels and bearing interest at SOFR plus margins of between 1.90% and 1.975% per annum.

The latest biannual report on shipping markets from Danish Ship Finance predicts an “extraordinary” earnings season for the crude and product tanker trades this year and next. The report attributes this to distance-adjusted demand set to expand by 5.6% and 10.9% for crude and product tankers, respectively, while fleet expansion is set to be under 3%. Tanker panellists at last week’s Maritime CEO Forum in Singapore were equally confident, with Alan Hatton, the CEO of Foreguard Shipping, stating that the order book remains low, and it is expensive and time-consuming to order a ship. Braemar analysis shows that crude tanker utilisation averaged 89% in Q1, with an overall laden tanker utilisation forecast to rise to 91% by year-end, settling at around 92% from 2024 to 2026 before dipping due to newbuilding orders.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.