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March 23, 2023

The Port of Hamburg, Germany’s busiest seaport and the second busiest in Europe, has been closed for 48 hours due to a public employees strike.

The strike was called by Germany’s United Services Union, demanding a 10.5% wage increase for the approximately 2.5 million public sector employees. Port officials have limited vessel movements on the Elbe, and all departing vessels have been closed. The strike is expected to continue until Friday morning, with the port expected to remain closed until further notice.

Key services for the maritime industry, such as locks, movable bridges, barrages, and the old Elbe tunnel in St. Pauli, are also anticipated to be impacted.

Last year, nearly 120 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Hamburg, which has more than 7,000 vessel calls annually and is a hub for inland water transport.


Engie’s subsidiary Elengy is facing extended regasification operations stoppage for another seven days after trade unions voted to continue their strike at its three liquefied natural gas terminals until 28 March.

The terminals, with a total import capacity of 16.8 million tonnes per annum, are at Fos-Cavaou, Fos-Tonkin, and Montoir-de-Bretagne. The workers, members of France’s CGT union, are among thousands of workers staging industrial action against the French government’s plan to lift the state pension age to 64. Meanwhile, the Dunkirk LNG terminal, operated by Fluxys, is the only facility available to offload LNG cargoes after the strike action ended on 16 March.

On Monday, the French government narrowly survived a no-confidence vote after President Emmanuel Macron invoked a special constitutional power to enact a pension bill without a parliamentary vote.


Tyler Baron, CEO of Minerva Bunkering, has claimed that outdated methods used to measure deliveries in the bunkering industry are causing a loss of up to $5.2bn in fuel annually due to quantity shortages.

Manual measurement and various calculations, such as temperature and density, are used to determine the amount of fuel delivered, and these are highly subject to manipulation and human error. Fuel theft costs the industry up to 9 million mt/year of lost bunker fuel out of a total of 230 million mt of delivered product last year. Lack of universal standards across markets is resulting in even the largest bunkering traders deciding not to compete at some locations.

Singapore has adopted mass flow metering, which measures the flow rate in the pipe and gauges the quantity and density of the fuel. The uptake of mass flow meters in Singapore has been accompanied by strict regulations, making it a model for other ports to follow.


Bunker demand in Singapore remains average with tight availability of VLSFO and HSFO, while LSMGO availability is normal. Residual fuel oil stocks have dropped by 3% despite a 5% increase in net imports. In China, LSFO output has increased by over 4% in February with weak production margins. China has imported less fuel oil this month, indicating less reliance on imports. South Korean ports have seen weak demand this week with intermittent rough weather. VLSFO and LSMGO are widely available in India, while bunkering in west coast ports might be disrupted due to bad weather. Availability remains okay in Fujairah, with lead times for VLSFO and LSMGO slightly decreasing and increasing respectively.

Indian maritime industry veteran Capt Girish Phadnis has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Maritime Association of Shipowners Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA), the leading shipping association in India. As Director and Country Head of MTM Ship Management in India, Capt Phadnis aims to increase women’s participation in the Indian maritime sector and to strengthen the maritime training infrastructure of MASSA-owned maritime training academies located in Chennai and Navi Mumbai.

MASSA, a non-profit body of ship owners, ship managers, and agents, works closely with the Union Shipping Ministry of India, the Director General of Shipping of India, and Indian ship owners and maritime trade unions.

The association also established a ‘Trust’ in 1994 to build maritime training infrastructure for Indian officers and ratings of the merchant navy using donations from employers.

DeepOcean, a leading ocean services provider, has entered into a two-year time charter agreement with Fosnavaag-based shipowner Olympic Subsea for the modern construction support vessel, Olympic Ares.

The vessel, equipped with a 250 Te crane, will provide subsea inspection, maintenance, and repair, light construction, and recycling services to DeepOcean’s offshore renewables and oil and gas customers. The charter will commence in Q1 2023 and have a firm hire period until the end of 2024, with an option to extend the contract. Olympic will upgrade the vessel’s DP system in 2023, enabling further reduction of the vessel’s carbon footprint in line with DeepOcean’s CO2 emission reduction strategy.

The Olympic Ares will be equipped with Schilling HD ROVs together with DeepOcean’s dedicated infrastructure.

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks shipping rates for dry bulk commodities, saw a significant drop on Wednesday. The index fell 56 points, or 3.7%, to 1,456, its biggest one-day fall since mid-February. The decline was due to weaker demand for larger vessels, which led to a decrease in average daily earnings for capesize and panamax vessels.

While the supramax index rose slightly, the overall picture remains uncertain due to China’s consideration of a crude steel output cut, leading to lower demand for iron ore and coal. Despite this, fundamentals for both capesize and panamax segments are expected to improve in the short term.

Sempra Infrastructure Partners, a subsidiary of energy infrastructure company Sempra, has announced a positive final investment decision for the development and construction of the Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project in Southeast Texas.

The project will have two natural gas liquefaction trains and two LNG storage tanks with a capacity of approximately 13 million tonnes per annum.

The long-term contractable capacity of about 10.5 million tonnes per annum has already been fully subscribed under binding agreements with ConocoPhillips, RWE Supply and Trading, PKN ORLEN, INEOS and ENGIE. The company has also begun marketing and developing Phase 2 of the project.

You can read yesterday’s issue of ‘Currents’ here.

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