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13 Сентября 2017

RLL Container Report - 13 September 2017

From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: john.keir@telia.com Date: 13 September 2017

Whisky galore.

It seemed like there was no alternative to the current system of building ever-larger container vessels to transport cargoes on the main trade route between Asia and Europe. All the major lines have placed orders for vessels capable of transporting 22,000 teu. Of course, the vessels travel at a rather sedentary pace and take 24 days or more to reach the North European ports. Rail operators may talk of transporting boxed cargoes more quickly (and far more expensively) from China to North Europe but the fact is block trains in China are limited to a mere 42 boxes. In addition, there is still the problem of the two breaks of gauge and the fact that the railways cannot provide direct services to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

The Koreans in particular do not want to lose more market share to their Chinese competitors and so they have come up with a game-changing solution. Hyundai Merchant Marine plans to test out a faster service on the Northern route via the Arctic Sea and down into Europe. Ice melting in the summer months now makes it possible to operate regular services on this route. The Koreans reckon they can operate a 14-day schedule with ice-class vessels capable of transporting 2,500 to 3,500 teu on each voyage. These specially-built box carriers will follow ice-breakers, which serve the ports of Dudinka on the Yenisei River, as well as the port of Sabetta on the Yenisei River. Both Murmansk and Archangelsk played an important role in the Second World War, as the main supply routes for distributing military hardware from North America and the UK to the Soviet Allies. Now, the Scottish Government in Edinburgh is looking at ways to exploit the vast potential of the natural harbour of Scapa Flow, Orkney where the Arctic convoys assembled before heading out on the dangerous journey to Archangel. For a number of sound commercial reasons, our Korean colleagues may wish to add Scapa Flow to their itinerary.

Scapa is only a few miles from the most northerly rail line in the UK, offering the possibility of distributing boxed cargoes to a wide range of destinations throughout Europe. The port is only a week’s sailing time to the Canadian port of Halifax and the road and rail links to cities such as New York, Montreal and Toronto. Third, Scapa Flow is the best located port for one of the main sources of return cargo to Korea and Japan. In 2016, Scottish whisky distillers exported the equivalent of 1.2 billion 70CL bottles, of Scotch whisky at 40% proof. Asian markets demonstrated significant growth with Japan recording a 20% rise in imports for a final total of 30 million bottles. Near neighbours, South Korea and Taiwan imported a total of 36 million bottles, while the Chinese market absorbed USD 54 million worth of Scotch whisky and is growing fast.

John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
13 September 2017

Copyright ©, 2017, John Keir

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