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March 22, 2023

Peter Twiss, the President and CEO of German-based shipping company Oldendorff Carriers, has retired from his role after over 20 years of service.

Twiss introduced a unique form of management empowering people to make their own decisions, which led the company to become a market leader in several dry bulk trades. The company’s board has appointed Patrick Hutchins as the new President and CEO.

Hutchins has been with the company since October 1999 and became a founding board member in 2007. Oldendorff Carriers specializes in the transportation of dry bulk commodities, including coal, iron ore, grains, and fertilizers, and operates a large fleet of bulk carriers.

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A tanker carrying diesel and jet fuel caught fire off the coast of Portugal, with concerns of a potential pollution incident.

The Greta K, a Malta-flagged vessel, was approximately 1.5 miles off the coast and was being guided towards Leixões when the fire started. The vessel has a crew of 19, some of whom have already been evacuated. The fire remains active, and three tugboats and firefighting teams have been dispatched to assist in the operation.

Twelve crew members have been safely evacuated, while the remaining seven remain on board. The Portuguese authorities are preparing for potential pollution and are closely monitoring the situation.

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French container carrier CMA CGM is reportedly seeking to charter four vessels to benefit from the lucrative car-carrying trade.

The car-carrier market has been booming since last year, with rates skyrocketing to new heights and forcing shippers to book space months in advance. Container carriers such as CMA CGM are looking to invest their record profits from the past two years in the industry. However, CMA CGM is not alone in this race to grab a piece of the car-carrying pie, as other container lines like HMM are also exploring this market, while Cosco has ordered three more pure car and truck carriers. Traditional PCTC operators, including Hyundai Glovis and Grimaldi, have also been ordering more vessels.

The 7,000-unit size PCTC is in particular demand, and the car-carrying business is expected to grow further. However, the use of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars poses a significant challenge to the logistics industry, as they can catch fire and burn with a much greater intensity than other cargo.

There are no solutions yet on how to deal with battery fires, and cross-industry collaboration is needed to prevent them from igniting, according to Marc Lefebvre, CMA CGM’s senior manager for security and safety of cargo, who spoke at a conference dedicated to the challenges of transporting li-ion batteries in London.

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Stolt Tankers, a subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen, has added two modern stainless steel chemical tankers to its fleet.

The Preveze 1 and Chemical Atlantik were built in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and are worth a combined $54.2m. They will be renamed the Stolt Condor and Stolt Tucan and used in Stolt Tankers’ Inter-Caribbean service, with delivery expected in Q2 2023.

Stolt Tankers operates a fleet of 166 chemical tankers and said the new vessels will be retrofitted with fuel-saving technology to lower their carbon footprint. Lucas Vos, president of Stolt Tankers, said the purchase was an “excellent opportunity” to secure attractive tonnage in a firming market.

The takeover of Credit Suisse by UBS has raised concerns for Greek shipping as Credit Suisse has been the largest bank financier for the industry since 2016, with a portfolio worth $5.2bn.

Petrofin Research data indicates that globally, Credit Suisse is the 10th largest shipping bank, while UBS has a small exposure of $200m to the shipping sector. The buyout could limit the amount of lending available to shipowners, as UBS may not see shipping finance as a core activity.

Reports suggest that UBS may focus on lowering the risk of its overall portfolio, which could lead to less attention on shipping. The strategic model of the banks may be re-evaluated, which could have a negative impact on shipping finance.

Record crude oil exports from the US to Europe have reached an average of 2.1 million barrels per day this month, driven by weaker demand from US refineries and the wide discount to the global benchmark.

This is a significant milestone that strengthens the US’s position as a key crude oil supplier to Europe. A holiday freeze, which affected a dozen US refineries, increased scheduled plant maintenance and lowered crude oil demand, which widened the discount of US crude oil to Brent crude. This resulted in a surge of exports to Europe and China this month. Despite the domestic demand set to rise in the coming months due to the end of refinery turnaround season and summer driving, supply is also set to increase.

The Biden administration is due to sell 26 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve under a congressionally approved release. Kpler’s analyst, Matt Smith, stated that as long as the Brent-WTI spread remains wide, exports should remain strong in the months ahead.

Ocean Network Express, the seventh-largest container ship liner operator by capacity, is planning to build its own fleet of ships after relying on charters in the past.

ONE CEO Jeremy Nixon said that the company is planning to invest at least $20 billion by fiscal 2030, with most of the investment going towards ships and related expenses. ONE announced that it has ordered 10 large new container ships for delivery in 2025 and 2026, which could eventually run on alternative fuels like methanol or ammonia. The company plans to own these new vessels, along with 10 ships ordered in May 2022.

ONE’s investment drive is underpinned by strong profits under COVID-19 as shipping rates surged due to demand from consumers stuck at home and supply chain disruptions. However, owning a fleet also comes with drawbacks as the uncertain future of the market and huge orders for container ships placed during the pandemic boom are expected to be fulfilled, leading to supply outstripping demand and potentially declining freight rates.

Capesize freight rates are set to rise due to the impact of the war in Ukraine on the energy markets.

As a result of the EU ban on imports, Russian exports are being re-routed to new destinations such as China, India, and Turkey, leading to an increase in the average laden distance for Russian coal cargoes from 2,000-2,500km to around 4,000km. This suggests a near doubling of the shipping capacity required by the Russian coal trade. Furthermore, the shift of the trade towards Capesize vessels is likely to amplify the impact on the freight markets, with the proportion of the Russian coal trade served by the Capesize market increasing from 10% to 25%.

The European energy crisis, caused by the withdrawal of Russian gas supplies, has elevated demand for coal in Europe, and MSI predicts growth of 2.7% yoy in the coal trade this year. This is likely to contribute to an increase in the volatility of Capesize utilization rates.

You can read yesterday’s 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.