Friday, August 17, 2018

From Ferries to Rail Freight, Trucks and Motorways to Air Cargo, Some Stories You May Have Missed

A Quick Look at Snippets of News You Might Wish to Read
Shipping News Feature
UK – We start the week's round up of some of the smaller shipping and logistics news releases in Northern Ireland with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) bitterly complaining about delays to the sorely needed £130 million improvement scheme to Belfast's York Street. The junctions around Belfast's M1, M2 and M3 experience very high levels of traffic causing delays to road haulage operators and it is now 9 years since the scheme was first mooted.

Yet again the scheme faced another delay this week, with the High Court ruling there were mistakes in the way the Department for Infrastructure appointed a contractor. Despite facing several setbacks since its inception, most prominently in recent years a lack of funding, the project is now fully viable with funding secured via the DUP and Conservative Party Confidence and Supply agreement of June 2017.

The High Court ruling is the sole obstacle it now faces. If the scheme collapses due to this procurement error, the FTA says it would be a serious setback to the prosperity of the logistics sector, and in turn, the wider Northern Ireland economy, and wishes that, whatever the outcome of the hearing, the plans for the scheme will stay in place.

UK – Following a good start to the year, Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK has continued its successful development in the second quarter. In Q2 2018, the company registered 2,157 new Mercedes-Benz trucks above 6 tonnes GVW - gaining a market share of 20.22%. Coupled with the strong performance in Q1, this takes the total number of new Mercedes-Benz Trucks registered in 2018 to 3,623 - 4% more than in the first six months of the previous year.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which publishes the statistics, the total market for new HGVs above 6 tonnes was 10,670 in Q2 2018, a fall of 9% year-on-year. So far this year, some 20,455 new trucks have been registered – 7.8% fewer than in the first six months of 2017.

UK – The Secretary of State for Transport has granted the application from Network Rail to construct a new section of railway underneath the East Coast Main Line to link Great Northern Great Eastern and Stamford lines, negating the need for freight trains to cross over three of the East Coast Main Line tracks. Work will commence shortly with completion scheduled for spring 2021 on the multimillion pound project and its completion will mean improvement in passenger train times which will be able to pass unobstructed by the slower freight wagons.

Network Rail this week has also secured permission to build a new bridleway bridge across the Felixstowe branch line to provide a safe public route across the railway while enabling for more goods to be moved by rail freight and improving reliability for passenger services. Paul McMahon, Route MD said the project is the next critical stage in unlocking further capacity for container traffic to travel from the Port of Felixstowe to the Midlands and beyond.

NORWAY – In 2018, Norwegian seafood as air cargo is expected to reach some 230,000 tonnes and, as a result, Oslo Airport is now the largest freighter airport in Northern Europe with 14 cargo airlines calling at the airport weekly. Now a MoU has been signed between Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Sjømatterminalen AS to operate the Seafood Center at Oslo Airport. The Seafood Center will handle up to 250,000 tonnes of seafood annually in a facility the partners say is designed to meet industry requirements for cool chain logistics and innovation.

Norway supports half of all the air cargo generated in the Nordic region. In 2017, Oslo Airport was the fastest growing Cargo Airport in Europe with a 36% growth. Some 185,000 tonnes were flown in and out of the airport with 90,000 tonnes being Seafood. Construction of the new terminal is expected to commence in April 2019, with an opening of the terminal in 2021.

SINGAPORE – WORLDWIDE – The 2020 sulphur-in-fuel oil cap brings new challenges, mainly the availability of fuel and the consequences to shipowners and operators if obtaining compliant fuel is not possible. With more fuel blends available to meet the 0.5% limit, no two ports will supply the exact same composition of fuel. Even a slight change in quality between fuels can lead to substantial issues with engine performance and breakdown, as a recent problem in the US Gulf illustrated. The industry needs clarity on which fuels will be available and where they will be to make decisions now for 2020.

This year’s Vessel Performance Optimisation Forum (VPO Singapore 2018) will consist of three key sessions to identify and discuss the approaches to better ship performance through monitoring, fuel management, and financing technologies for change, and already several experts have been confirmed as speakers at the event on October 9 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore.

CHINA – Shipping line Stena Bulk tells us that it created a small piece of history on August 8 when the LNG carrier Stena Blue Sky delivered its cargo to the new Xin’ao Terminal in Zhoushan, Ninbo region for Chinese gas distributor ENN. The gas terminal is the first privately-owned LNG terminal in China. Chinese companies build their own LNG terminals and import the fuel directly because they aim to meet higher demand and reduce their dependence on supplies of LNG from state-owned companies.

The Zhoushan terminal has a capacity of 3 million tonnes of LNG per year and ENN is one of the leading privately owned gas operators in China with the event attracting television coverage shown around the country, whilst the Stena Blue Sky also received a clean bill of health from the PSC which carried out a full inspection of the vessel.

CANADA – FINLAND – The MV Armand-Imbeau II was recently delivered to Canadian operator Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) and the 92 metre long ferry boasts a broad spectrum of technology to ensure minimal environmental impact, much of it due to Wärtsilä. Operating on LNG fuel, the ferry has a fully integrated system comprising the dual-fuel engines and the fuel storage, control and supply system, and extended project management all supplied by the Finnish engineering group.

The ferry will operate on the Saguenay river on the Tadoussac–Baie-Sainte-Catherine route. It is capable of carrying more than 430 passengers and 110 cars or 16 tractor units and its design means it is also in line with the Government of Québec’s Maritime Strategy, which seeks to protect the integrity of the province’s river and marine ecosystem.

Photo: The ferry MV Armand-Imbeau II built for the Canadian operator Société des traversiers du Québec will operate on LNG fuel.