Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Container Volumes Back to 2017 Numbers

Throughput indices collected by Drewry Shipping Consultants have determined that in April 2020, the global container port throughput index stood at 121.6, precisely the same as in April 2017 – three years back.

The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 220 ports worldwide, representing over 75 percent of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.

The index declined by 2.3 points compared to March 2020, registering a month-on-month decline of 1.9 percent and a year-on-year decline of 6.6 percent.

Although the month-on-month deviation remained low at the global level, regional indices had a wide variation in April. The index for North American increased by 7.4 percent while the index for Asia (excluding China) declined by 7.6 percent.

In February 2020 the China index stood at its lowest level since 2015. It increased to 131.3 in March 2020 and has remained stable with a negligible increase of 0.1 point in April 2020. However this is significantly below the April 2019 level, down by 5.7 percent year-on-year, on basis of weaker demand from key North American and European markets which remained in lockdown.

Volume rebound at West Coast ports in the USA and Mexico in April raised the index for North America by 7.4 percent over the previous month. However, the continued adverse impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) did not allow North American throughput to reach the April 2019 level. Hence a decline of 8.2 percent year-on-year was witnessed. The notable feature in 2020 is the declining market share of West Coast ports vis-à-vis the gulf and east coast.

Despite an improvement in March 2020 index, the Asian countries excluding China could not sustain the recovery into April 2020. The index declined by 10 points to reach 121.2 in April 2020, a decline of 7.6 percent month-on-month and 5.6 percent year-on-year. Handling at all major ports including some of the major transhipment hubs in the region declined considerably. Weaker demand from European and North American is tracking back along the intra-Asian supply chains, reducing both deepsea and intra-Asian movements.

According to Drewry, the only region that saw improvements in its port handling is Latin America, where the index value increased by 2.1 percent month-on-month and 4.7 percent year-on-year. On the other hand, the double-digit decline was seen in Africa, although Drewry notes their sample size is small and so the figures should be viewed with caution.

Traffic Mitigation Fee Increasing at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) has announced that on August 1, 2020, the Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will increase by 4.2 percent. The adjustment matches the combined 4.2 percent increase in longshore wage and assessment rates that take effect in early July.

Beginning August 1, the TMF will be $33.47 per TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) or $66.94 for all other sizes of container. The TMF is charged on non-exempt containers. Containers exempt from the TMF include empty containers; import cargo or export cargo that transits the Alameda Corridor in a container and is subject to a fee imposed by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority; and transshipment cargo. Empty chassis and bobtail trucks are also exempt. The OffPeak program provides regularly scheduled night or Saturday shifts to handle trucks delivering and picking up containers at the 12 container terminals in the two adjacent ports. PierPass launched the OffPeak program in 2005 to reduce severe cargo-related congestion and air pollution on local streets and highways around the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Nearly half of all port truck trips now take place during the off-peak shifts. The container terminal operators mitigate truck traffic at their gates with appointment systems that spread truck trips out over the hours of operation.

The TMF helps offset the cost of operating extended gate hours. Labor costs are the largest single component of extended gate costs.

According to an analysis by maritime industry consultants SC Analytics, the net costs incurred by the terminals to operate the off-peak shifts in 2019 totaled $262 million. During that year, the terminals received $223 million from the TMF, offsetting about 85 percent of the OffPeak program’s costs.

Hull Optimization Improves Vessel Performance

Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) has completed a hull optimization project for Avalon Freight Services (AFS) to improve the directional stability of their landing craft, Catalina Provider.

Multiple keel designs were considered as viable options for the 150-foot landing craft, and EBDG conducted a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to estimate the effects each keel arrangement would have on directional stability and overall vessel performance as well as the effect the keels would have on the vessel's low-speed maneuverability. After the analysis was concluded and the results studied, EBDG recommended moving forward with 18" deep by 30' long keels located on the vessel's chine.

EBDG developed a fabrication and installation drawing to guide the selected shipyard, Al Larson Boat Shop, with the keel additions, and the Catalina Provider is now back in service.

As reported by the Captain of the Catalina Provider and management at AFS, overall vessel performance has improved with the addition of the new keels. Specifically, while transiting to Catalina, the vessel's tracking has significantly improved, resulting in considerably less required rudder angle. This reduction is creating less vibration and stress on the rudder bearings, thereby extending their life. The vessel has also gained a half-knot of speed with an expected improvement in fuel economy and preferred low-speed maneuverability characteristics.

Wärtsilä Developing Hybrid Boutique Cruise Vessel

Technology group Wärtsilä has signed a partnership agreement with architect and yacht designer Stefano Pastrovich on the design of a new type of sustainable superyachts for the boutique cruise segment to serve the charter and luxury hotel sectors.

The design will feature a fully-integrated combination of hybrid propulsion and solar panels for minimal environmental impact and high energy efficiency.

The concept is built around a 60-meter long catamaran with accommodation for up to 36 passengers. The level of sustainability will be such that it will enjoy access to harbors that would otherwise be closed to large motor yachts.

Wärtsilä has extensive hybrid propulsion and energy recovery experience and has already worked with Pastrovich in other successful projects.