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May 23, 2023

The United Nations expresses worry as Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) experiences a halt in ship arrivals since May 2 under an agreement facilitating the safe export of grain and fertilizer during wartime.

The port, located near Odesa, used to receive shipments from Russia via a pipeline, but it has been inactive since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Despite the extension of the Black Sea grain deal, which permits the export of ammonia, Ukraine is considering allowing Russian ammonia transit if the agreement is expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and commodities. The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), comprising officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the U.N., authorizes and inspects ships under the deal. The lack of vessel registrations and shipments to the port of Pivdennyi raises concerns, and the U.N. calls for the resumption of operations.

The World Shipping Council (WSC) reveals a promising trend in the international liner shipping industry’s container safety, with the number of containers lost at sea plummeting to 661 in 2022. This substantial decrease compared to previous years is primarily attributed to fewer significant-loss incidents. While this improvement is commendable, the report underscores the ongoing need for continuous vigilance to safeguard crew members, valuable cargo, and the environment.

The WSC emphasizes that container safety is a shared responsibility throughout the supply chain, emphasizing factors such as proper packing, stowage, securing, and accurate weight reporting. By collaborating with partners, liner carriers strive to prevent incidents and ensure safe container transport. The 661 lost containers account for a minimal proportion (0.00026%) of the estimated 250 million containers shipped annually, reflecting a low loss rate considering the vast cargo value of over $7 trillion transported each year.

Climate change protestors in London express frustration over the immense profits generated by fossil fuel companies and their lack of action in mitigating climate change. Demonstrators slow traffic and disrupt Shell’s annual shareholder meeting at the Excel conference center. One protester attempted to storm the stage but was prevented by security. Several clashes occurred between protesters and members of the public, leading to interventions by the police.

The Metropolitan Police urge the public not to intervene and let law enforcement handle the situation. The protesters, including Christian Climate Action, Extinction Rebellion, Laudato Si’ Movement, and Quakers for Climate Justice, demand the shutdown of Shell due to its contributions to environmental destruction. The disruptions at the shareholder meeting caused delays, with security escorting protesters out of the venue. Shell’s chairman addressed the protesters, highlighting the company’s commitment to its decarbonization strategy and urging shareholders not to vote for proposed changes to their approach.

Seven bodies have been found in the central Indian Ocean following the capsizing of a Chinese fishing vessel, the “Lupeng Yuanyu 028.” After the shipwreck, President Xi Jinping of China ordered a comprehensive search and rescue operation to locate the missing crew members. Countries like Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Maldives, and the Philippines joined forces to assist in the search efforts. The ship, owned by Penglai Jinglu Fishery Co Ltd, had a total of 39 crew members onboard. The nationalities of the recovered bodies have not been confirmed. The wrecked vessel is slowly drifting eastward, while 13 ships remain in the vicinity. China’s ambassador to Australia has called for increased rescue efforts by the Australian government.

Equinor, a Norwegian energy company, has decided to cancel the development of the Trollvind floating offshore wind farm in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Originally intended to have a capacity of 1 gigawatt, the wind farm was meant to supply electricity to the Troll and Oseberg offshore fields. Equinor, along with partners Petoro, TotalEnergies, Shell, and ConocoPhillips, initiated the project in June 2022. However, due to various challenges faced by the project and the offshore wind industry as a whole, Equinor has indefinitely postponed its further development. These challenges include limited technology availability, time constraints, and escalating costs, making the project economically unviable. Equinor remains committed to offshore wind development in Norway and plans to apply the knowledge gained from the Trollvind project to other initiatives.

Singapore-based terminal operator PSA International and Kazakhstan’s main rail network operator, Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ), have joined forces to promote the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR). This rail corridor spans China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and connects to Black Sea ports, facilitating the shipment of goods to European countries and Turkey. The newly formed joint venture company, KPMC, will focus on enhancing the TITR through initiatives such as organizing block trains and providing station-to-station products and services. These efforts aim to increase cargo flow, reduce transportation costs, and improve transit times along the route. The collaboration signifies PSA International’s expansion into Central Asia and its commitment to enhancing global connectivity and sustainable trade.

Bertram Rickmers, a prominent figure in German shipping, tragically died after a fall down a flight of stairs during his wife’s birthday celebration. Rickmers hailed from a well-known shipowning family in Germany and co-founded a company with his brother that initially focused on selling ship bonds. After their separation in the 1990s, Bertram Rickmers expanded his enterprise, eventually operating a fleet of approximately 130 ships. However, the company faced financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy in 2017. Undeterred, Rickmers went on to establish the Asian Spirit Steamship Company, which currently manages a fleet of 11 feeder boxships.

Maritime UK, the industry body representing the maritime sector in the United Kingdom, has named Chris Shirling-Rooke as its new CEO. Currently serving as the CEO of Mersey Maritime, a maritime regional cluster organization, Shirling-Rooke will assume the role in the coming months, succeeding Janet Fallon, the interim CEO. Recognizing the challenges faced by the industry, including climate change and the forthcoming Clean Maritime Plan, Shirling-Rooke emphasized the importance of maximizing opportunities such as London International Shipping Week to showcase the UK’s dynamic maritime industry to the world. The maritime sector in the UK supports over 1 million jobs, contributes over £46 billion to the economy, and facilitates 95% of the country’s global trade.

A group of Japanese shipbuilders, including Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Nihon Shipyard, has announced a collaborative effort to develop a large-scale, ocean-going tanker specifically designed for the transportation of liquified carbon dioxide (LCO2). The increasing demand for LCO2 transportation arises from the growth of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects worldwide, particularly in Asia.

These projects involve capturing CO2 and securely storing it underground. With the expectation of further CCS initiatives and support from national governments, the Japanese shipbuilders recognize the need to establish a robust shipbuilding infrastructure to meet the rising demand for LCO2 carriers. Mitsubishi Shipbuilding will contribute its expertise in gas handling technology, while Nihon Shipyard will leverage its shipbuilding experience and technological capabilities. The construction of a test ship is scheduled to take place at Nihon Shipyard, with potential delivery estimated for 2027.

The flag of Gabon has experienced remarkable growth this year, making it the fastest-growing flag in terms of percentage. The so-called shadow fleet, which transports sanctioned Russian, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil, has seen an increase in the number of vessels registered under the Gabon flag.

Many of these vessels were previously registered under the St Kitts and Nevis flag. The Gabon-flagged tankers, primarily used for Russian trade, fall under high-risk categories due to shipping sanctions or lack identifiable ultimate group owners. The expansion of the shadow fleet has put pressure on shipping insurers, as substandard tonnage and increased ship-to-ship transfers lead to various operational difficulties. Notably, the growth rate of the shadow fleet has slowed down in recent months, indicating a potential change in the trend.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

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