All the February Shipping News You Don't Want to Miss

It’s full steam ahead for 2017, and here at Octopi we’re ready to embrace this year’s World Maritime Day theme: Connecting, ships, ports, and people. The interconnectedness of the maritime sector has never been more prominent - just look at the highlights from last month’s shipping news.

Partnerships & Acquisitions

We’ve seen increased cooperation across the shipping industry with several major coalitions emerging. Port Technology has been tracking readers’ opinions on which alliance will take this year’s top TEU spot. 44.7% continue to believe the 2M Alliance, led by Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), will beat out the Ocean Alliance led by CMA-CGM.

In a recent deal, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) expanded its acquisition of Hanjin Pacific Corporation’s network with the purchase of container terminals in Tokyo and Kaohsiung. Similarly, Hamburg Süd moved forward with an agreement to purchase slots on Maersk vessels for its east-west volumes ahead of Maersk’s acquisition of the German carrier. Looks like Maersk is expecting positive trends to continue in 2017.

Following Maersk’s lead last month, CMA CGM signed an MoU with Alibaba for online booking of container space. Meanwhile, DP World CEO met with Tesla’s Elon Musk to discuss uses for Tesla’s Powerwall (fancy wall batteries) technology in port applications. And finally, with growing ambitions in freight and logistics, Amazon announced plans to invest $1.49bn in a new Prime Air hub. We’ll be watching closely as the role of tech giants in the shipping industry continues to evolve (and when they are going to buy their first containership).

Signs of Shipping Growth

Despite uncertainty, we saw a lot of positive shipping news this month. Megaships appear headed for the eastern starboard of the United States. Rahul Kapoor, Head of Drewry Financial Research at Drewry, recently shared his sentiments on Bloomberg TV. APM Terminals announced a massive infrastructure expansion plan for the Port of New York and New Jersey. The Port of Virginia is already a step ahead with the launch of a $320 million expansion to accommodate vessels in the 12,000-plus TEU range. The large-scale project is expected to nearly double the terminal’s annual cargo handling capability by 2020.

Across the pond, London’s principal port of Tilbury announced a $1.25B expansion to meet rising demand after a record-setting year. Cargo carried at the port rose from 12.5m tonnes in 2015 to 13.5m in 2016. Brexit concerns don’t seem to be slowing them down.

After posting a $56m net loss in 2016, Textainer insists positive trends will help it ‘turn the corner.’ Similarly, earnings dropped 6% for HPH Trust but the company believes it remains well positioned to meet industry challenges in the year ahead. And efforts to counter oversupply at the Panama Canal continue with at least 100 more Panamax vessels expected to be scrapped.

Shipping News & Trends

We have a new FMC Chairman in Michael Kouri who began his 45 year career on a barge liner. There are also several noteworthy developments in the realm of shipping tech this month too.

Port Technology reported on how one of Latin America's busiest ports is tapping into IBM + Cisco IoT analytics to maximize performance 24/7. Watch this video to learn more about the Port of Cartagena’s use of advanced edge analytics. Software is also beginning to bridge the gap between ships with Furuno. They are working towards an “open standard for the connected ship” in a major Sea Traffic Management (STM) test project co-financed by the EU.

There’s a new kind of matchmaker in town. Rotterdam tech startup launched its online platform aimed at connecting cargo and tank containers more efficiently. Moreover, industry experts are guardedly optimistic about the possibilities of Port of Antwerp’s NxtPort new data platform. No wonder a recent survey showed concerned over a shortage of big data experts - we can’t get enough!

And finally, are self-driving ships the next frontier in maritime automation? An unexpected pioneer, Rolls-Royce is leading the way with plans for its first driverless fleet by 2020. The company estimates cost cuts of up to 20% by removing the need for a crew to pilot the boats. It looks like someone is finally beating Uber to the punch in Maritime.

For more on what lies ahead in 2017, be sure to check out Splash 24/7’s awesome interview with Dr. Martin Stopford. Spoiler: Going digital is kind of important!