RLL Container Report - 25 October 2017
From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 25 October 2017
Off the beaten track.
Next year will witness the launch of the first Ultra Large Container Vessel with a capacity of 22,000 teu. This will then be followed by a whole fleet of ULVCs with a capacity totalling 1.12 million teu. It is important to note that the advantage of up-sizing to these mega vessels lies not in their capacity but more in the economics of deepsea, intercontinental transport. It is estimated that the Megamax vessels have a cost advantage of as much as USD 500 per teu over the 14,000 teu vessels, which only recently ruled the waves. These smaller, though still relatively new, vessels will now be relegated to the lower divisions of intercontinental trade.
One of the deepsea consortia, The Alliance, may struggle to maintain its place in the Premier League. The five members of the Alliance, which consists of Hapag-Lloyd, K-Line, MOL, NYK and Yang Ming have a total of twelve vessels with a capacity in the 18,000-22,000 teu range. By contrast, the Maersk and MSC grouping, 2M has 62 such ultra-large box carriers at their disposal, while Ocean Alliance, which incorporates CMA CGM, Cosco, Evergreen and OOCL, has a combined fleet of 51 big box carriers. The key will be not the volume of slots, but rather the availability of sufficient freight-paying goods to fill this upsurge in slot capacity. A recent study by global strategy consultants, Roland Berger gives hope that the upsurge in intercontinental trade will continue unabated. “Eurasian rail freight is a growth story and this growth is expected to continue”, the consultants concluded.
Rail freight traffic between five Asian countries and the EU had increased from 25,000 teu (or the equivalent of just over one megaship-load per annum) in 2014 to 145,000 teu in 2016. This equates to 1,800 trains and the overland route has continued to expand its range of rail services. Transit times are 16 to 17 days, although some services have recorded a transit time as low as 12 days. However, the comparison with transit times on the East-West route is quite misleading because there is a vast area in Eurasia not served by deep-sea vessels. Each mode of transport has restrictions on speed and on the territories it can reasonably serve with direct services.
A large section of global consumers relies on containers delivered to a major maritime hub, or rail terminal, from where a second operator will take the containerised goods by a variety of modes of transportation to its final destination. It is this large and expanding clientele, rather than those living along the main routes, that the shipowners and rail operators will have to target in order to achieve profit growth.
John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
25 October 2017
Copyright ©, 2017, John Keir