Cosco Shipping Holdings predicts a profit of $410 million for the first three quarters of the year, citing the recovery in volume and higher container rates, according to a statement on the carrier's website. The company reported a $1.4 billion loss for 2016, owing the loss to weaker pricing even as volume for its shipping line increased.

In addition to an improving market, the company said  synergies  from the merger of Cosco and China Shipping Container Lines and the sale of its stake in the Qingdao Qianwan Container Terminal also boosted profitability. Maritime analyst Drewry estimates carriers will post profits of about $5 billion this year after securing higher annual contract rates on the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trades.

The positive forecast from Cosco highlights the continued strength of the market even though spot rates slid through most of the peak season despite strong growth in volumes that led industry analysts to predict a six-year high for the global container trade.

Carriers have generally benefited from strong contract rates, though. The effects of carrier consolidation began to emerge this year, with rates in the third quarter about 39 percent higher year over year in the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trade lanes, according to Drewry Shpping Consultants.

Data from Container Trades Statistics shows that first-half volume on Asia-Europe grew by 5.3 percent to 7.9 million TEU and continued to increase through August when 1.4 million TEU were moved on the trade, up 4 percent on the same month last year. US imports from Asia, an indicator of the health of the trans-Pacific trade, were up 4.2 percent in the first half to 7.3 million TEU

Despite the increased volume, overcapacity has prevented spot rates from rising. The slide has been most pronounced on the Asia-Europe trade, where carriers continue to add mega-ship capacity. The latest rate from Shanghai to North Europe per TEU has fallen 25.9 percent from July 28, to $714, but is still up 2.1 percent year over year, according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange’s Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI). A similar pattern is at play on the Shanghai-Mediterranean trade, with rates down 21.6 percent from July 28 to $692, but still up 19.7 percent from last year.

Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen told JOC’s Container Trade Europe conference in Hamburg that he was “cautiously optimistic”  about the market, pointing out that although the rates have been falling, they remain well above the lows recorded in 2016.

Although current trans-Pacific spot rates are now lower than the same time last year, rates spent the summer and peak season at much higher levels than last year. The SCFI rate per FEU to the US West Coast is down 16.1 percent to $1,414, and the rate to the East Coast is down 17.6 percent to $1,991. The current negative year-over-year comparisons are due to the sudden jump in rates following Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy, when shippers were hit with substantial rate hikes of almost 50 percent.

The 2017 to 2018 contracting season in the eastbound Pacific showed a marked improvement over last year, with rates to the West Coast of about $1,200 per FEU for larger customers, and up to about $1,500 per FEU for smaller BCOs. That compares with some rates that were below $800 per FEU the previous year.  Maersk Line, buoyed by improved contract rates in the Asia-Europe trade, reported improved profit in the second quarter, and it expects to continue profitability through the end of the year. Asia-Europe service contracts, which last about three months, are shorter than trans-Pacific contracts, most of which run for one year, beginning on May 1.


October 4, 2017: 

Africa Express Line Ltd (AEL) is expanding its refrigerated container fleet with the addition of 500 Star Cool Integrated containers manufactured by Maersk Container Industry (MCI). Star Cool Controlled Atmosphere offers high energy efficiency and effective care of perishables.

Dedicated to the environment and food safety, AEL selected the industry’s only fully integrated refrigerated container and the Star Cool Controlled Atmosphere (CA) technology for its proven high energy efficiency and effective care of the ripening process of perishables. The containers will be deployed to service AEL’s owner, French fruit exporter Compagnie Fruitiere, in routes to and from Europe and West Africa.

“We set out to invest in containers that would protect the high-value produce we transport while saving energy.  After comparative field trials, the controlled atmosphere technology clearly demonstrated its ability to help ensure the produce arrives at its destination in optimal condition. We will also take advantage of the energy-saving applications and remote monitoring capabilities of Star Cool. Not only will they help us optimise operations, but they will also help us stay true to the CSR commitments we share with our owner, Compagnie Fruitiere,” says Mathew Shed, technical director at AEL.

All Star Cool containers will be equipped with modems for remote access to monitor the assets, temperature, atmosphere, and alarms logged in real time in the Star Cool units. To further propel energy performance, AEL will activate the StarConomy reefer control application, which is proven to halve energy use while maintaining the same temperature inside the container, preserving produce quality.

“We have a long-standing relationship with AEL, and we are delighted that they again have chosen to add the most efficient container model. The integrated Star Cool 2017 model provides a whole suite of new efficiency-enhancing features to support the needs of modern container operations – from monitoring and controlling the atmospheric conditions on the inside of the container to digitalised solutions that allow for transparency and expanded data access,” says Soren Johannsen, chief commercial officer, MCI. “

Built-in digitalised solutions

Star Cool reefers feature a combination of built-in digitalised solutions that can be leveraged any time to further support AEL’s efficient service and surveillance of its Star Cool fleet. This includes an energy meter that offers a reliable and precise tool to measure energy use in real time, either manually or via AEL’s full modem coverage.

In addition, Intelligent Trip Inspection (ITI) now comes standard in all Star Cool reefers. ITI provides an enhanced digital inspection system that removes the need for timely and costly pre-trip inspections. ITI provides self-diagnostics that confirm whether the container is ready for the next trip and highlight if steps in the ITI process need further investigation.

Servicing Europe – West Africa routes

To supplement its fleet of specialised reefer vessels, AEL is chartering the new build 2,345 TEU, m/v ‘MIMMI SCHULTE’, equipped with high reefer plug capacity, to carry the new 40-foot high cube Star Cool CA reefers. Delivered directly from MCI’s factory in Qingdao, the maiden voyage will go to West Africa.


September 29 - According to the Times of Oman, the Oman Shipping Company (OSC) is looking for secondhand container ships, each with a capacity of 3,000 teu.

The company which is best known for its tanker fleet, has a couple of container liner services.
One, Gulf Express, is operated between the ports of Sohar and Jebel Ali, UAE, and also calls at the ports of Khorfakkan and Sharjah. This service was started in April last year using a multipurpose chartered vessel, which can carry 400 teu and project cargoes.

Its other container shipping service (Oman Express) connects the ports of Jebel Ali, Sohar, Duqm and Salalah and goes back to Jebel Ali.