Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Speaking in Istanbul, Simon Bennett, Deputy Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) warned on 3 April that avoiding overcapacity and unsustainably low freight rates is still a major challenge ten years after the massive downturn of 2008.
Mr Bennett said: ‘In that time shipping companies needed to show restraint when ordering new ships, to prevent stifling recovery. Yet the dark clouds of protectionism and slowing growth in key economies mean that the avoidance of over ordering is now more important than ever.’
Addressing an audience of shipowners and operators at the Global Maritime Summit 2019, organised in conjunction with the Turkish Chamber of Shipping, Mr Bennett acknowledged that individual operators would legitimately make their own individual business decisions regarding new tonnage. Our accompanying illustration has been kindly provided by ICS and the Turkish Chamber in support of the Global Maritime Summit 2019 ©.
He added: ‘Opinion is still divided on whether the rapid globalisation that has been experienced in the last 30 years may have run its course, and whether the slower rate of trade growth seen since the 2008 crisis represents some kind of permanent structural change. Certainly in 2019, the outlook for the global economy and thus demand for maritime transport appears to be worsening.
‘Ship ordering (in deadweight tonnage) fell 14% in 2018, about 17% below the average since the 2008 downturn. This suggests that many shipowners may indeed be resisting the temptation to over order and in early 2019, the worldwide shipping order book appeared to be stable at around 10% of the fleet. However, the reluctance of governments in Asia, where the vast majority of ships are built, to address overcapacity in the shipbuilding sector remains a serious issue.’
He went on to explain: ‘As well as the temptation to over order, decisions about when to recycle older ships are also fundamental to the equation. The good news is that a number of important regulatory uncertainties which have complicated decisions about when best to dispose of older ships are finally being resolved.
‘In particular this includes the implementation dates of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention. And while the precise cost of compliance with the IMO sulphur regulations is still unknown, the situation should become clearer after January 2020 now that IMO has confirmed that the implementation date of the global sulphur cap is irrevocable.’
In conclusion Bennett reflected: ‘Notwithstanding the risks of uncertainty in the immediate years ahead, in the long term there is always cause to remain optimistic. The UN has revised its projections for population growth upwards to an incredible 8.6 billion in 2030 from 7.7 billion in 2018. Combined with seemingly unstoppable demand for higher living standards in emerging economies, this indicates that long term demand for international shipping should continue to increase significantly.’
ICS is also encouraged by the decision in 2018 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to resume negotiations on an agreement to remove market distorting measures from shipbuilding that contribute to overcapacity. However, it remains to be seen whether China (which is not an OECD member) will take an active part.
In the Med
The story continues to evolve more than a week after the ship was embargoed in Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions against Syria, where the UK believed it was heading with two million barrels of crude oil. Her Master and Chief Officer were arrested on 4 July and the following day two other officers were taken into custody. It is understood from The Gibraltar Chronicle that all have now been bailed and released with conditions.
Early on the afternoon of 13 July Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, spoke with the Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, about the political issues surrounding the detention of the Grace 1 last week.
Mr Picardo said in a statement issued from Gibraltar on 13 July at 1857 GMT: ‘I was pleased to discuss with the Foreign Secretary the political issues surrounding our initial detention of the Grace 1, the investigation that is ongoing and the extended period of detention presently ordered by the Gibraltar Supreme Court.
‘Mr Hunt called me ahead of speaking with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr Javad Zarif. I therefore asked the Foreign Secretary to clarify to the Iranian authorities on my behalf that all the decisions made by Gibraltar in respect of the detention of the Grace 1 were made exclusively with a view to the Syrian destination of the vessel, the Baniyas oil refinery which is subject to EU sanctions, and without any regard to the origin of its cargo.
IHMA is pleased to announce that Ms Alexandra Thomson McIntosh, Marine Manager, Aberdeen Harbour Board, will represent…