Category "Trends"

Arctic Shipping: The new Gold Rush

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Northwest Passage, Port of Los Angeles – Port of Rotterdam

Arctic shipping routes are maritime paths used to traverse the Arctic ocean. They have long been sought, even since historical times as a way to substantially reduce the travel distance between ports. But these routes cannot be traversed readily due to the presence of ice at the Arctic. With the advent of global warming and associated climate change phenomena, the Arctic ice is melting at a record pace. While this is a grim foreshadowing of things to come, a few countries stand to make a tidy profit from this, namely from the ice being replaced by navigable water. But even for these countries, do the benefits really outweigh the costs?

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Green hydrogen in ocean-going shipping?

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Visit the Hydrogen Europe online representing the European industry, national associations, and research centers active in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector.

As the world struggles to conquer the coronavirus and overcome the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic, there have been frequent calls for an environmentally sustainable economic recovery and no return to the status quo a priori. Could green hydrogen and fuel cell technology propel ocean-going shipping into a sustainable, economically viable future?

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Cargo under Sail: The zero-emission experiment

in Decarbonization, Trends by

In early 23 July, Germany’s last commercial sailing cargo vessel in service AVONTUUR moored in the port of Hamburg, returning from her 5th journey across the Atlantic maritime traffic route. The captain and 15 crew members had been sailing for over seven months.

“After over 200 days on the high seas without being able to go on shore leaves and with the constant uncertainty in mind caused by the coronavirus, the crew is now looking forward to finally arriving”,

reports owner, shipping operator, and captain Cornelius Bockermann.
Vessel photo by ship spotter Lotse1967
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Disaster at Sea – Cruise industry sunk by coronavirus?

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Global live view of passenger vessel traffic using FleetMon Explorer.

Hardly any other industry has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus spread in the winter months – traditionally a most popular time for sun-seeking senior citizens from the Northern Hemisphere – cruise ship passengers were infected in their thousands. Ships were refused entry in port after port and cruises abruptly cancelled to offload passengers fast. All upcoming cruises were cancelled and since March, the cruise industry has been in 100% lockdown. This blog looks at the situation in July 2020 and what the future might hold.

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Celebrating the Kiel Canal’s 125th anniversary

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This month we are celebrating the 125th anniversary of the world’s most frequented artificial waterway. Read about the engineering feat, the historical background of construction, and its commercial significance.

It all began with a trick. The Kiel Canal would never have been built if Bismarck hadn’t exploited the first German Kaiser’s love of the navy to obtain permission to build a canal between the North Sea and the Baltic. 125 years after its completion and official opening on June 21, 1895, the Kiel Canal is still a vital transport link for international shipping and an important factor in North Germany’s economy.

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Closed after 110 years: the end of the “Königslinie”

in Trends, Maritime Knowledge by

Europe’s oldest ferry route between Sassnitz (Island of Rügen) and Trelleborg, Sweden closed by Stena Line after 110 years in service. Major impacts on international tourism for the region are to be expected after COVID19 travel restrictions are relaxed.

Germany’s oldest ferry line connecting Sassnitz, Germany and Trelleborg, Sweden.

On March 16 the ferry SASSNITZ undertook her last crossing from Sweden to Sassnitz. The shipping company Stena Line decided to close the traditional rail ferry route completely after 110 years in service. According to Stena Line, the ferry route wasn’t efficient – partly because of the pandemic-induced travel restrictions, partly due to the tense economic situation caused by lower freight volumes. The last rail traffic passed the route in 2014.

The old ferry route was of great importance for international tourism between the region and Sweden. Additionally, the route was the fastest way to travel between Germany and South Sweden. The passage took no more than four hours. The alternative route Rostock-Trelleborg takes two hours longer than the closed ferry line.

The fading doom of the old ferry line

In the past years, only 300.000 passengers crossed the countries via the “king’s line” ((Swedisch: Kungslinjen) which is the typical German term for the traditional rail ferry route between Sassnitz/Rügen, Germany and Trelleborg, Sweden. It is named after Emperor Wilhelm II as King of Prussia and the Swedish King Gustav V. According to the association “Destination Rügen – Cruise & Ferry network” the yearly passenger potential is much higher – up to 500.000 people could have used the ferry with the right Marketing strategy and aligned timetables.

The doom of the ferry line already began eight years ago. At that time the ferry line was owned by the German-Dansk shipping company Scandlines and the Swedish shipping company Stena Line. In 2012 Scandlines sold all her shares which resulted in Stena Line being the sole owner of the ferry route. Two years later the freight traffic in Sassnitz was relocated to Rostock. Later on, the shipping company cut the number of crossings to twice a day. In September 2018, the number of ferry rides dropped to less than once a day.

The sad peak was reached in autumn 2019. During the two weeks of school holidays in Germany, which is usually a popular travel season for German tourists, only 4 ferry crossings between Sassnitz and Trelleborg took place. In the whole month of November, the passenger ferry only ran six times between Germany and Sweden. After that, Stena Line withdrew the ferry Sassnitz to support on the route Rostock-Trelleborg. Since the end of April, the ferry Sassnitz is not in service being located in Uddevalla, Sweden.

Tourism highly affected by the closure

The king’s line was the only passenger ferry route between Trelleborg and Sassnitz. At Stena Line, there will only be two rail ferries between Rostock and Trelleborg left.

The ferry connection and the island Rügen are particularly popular with the Swedes. Swedish tourists like the cultural sights of the island, especially the seaside resorts, which are not available in their country. But not only the island is particularly affected by the ferry line’s suspension. The Hanseatic city of Stralsund, once ruled by the Swedes, is also likely to feel the absence of the Scandinavian tourists. Missing excursions to Western Pomerania, for example along the cultural-historical “Schwedenstraße” (The Swedes street) to Brandenburg, will be expected due to the closing of the traditional ferry route.

A glimmer of hope: High-speed catamaran might be an option

The shipping company Weiße Flotte operating several ferry lines in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in the area of Berlin considers relocating a high-speed catamaran, usually being in service by the company compound Unternehmensverbund Förde Reederei Seetouristik (FRS) between Marocco and Gibraltar, to the Baltic Sea. Weiße Flotte is part of the company network FRS. The federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania has promised 700.000 € financial support for the project. Rather than replacing the closed ferry line, a passenger line between Sassnitz/ Rügen and the Swedish city of Ystad might be planned. The high-speed catamaran can travel between Germany and South Sweden in two and a half hours. That might definitely be the fastest way to travel between the two countries!


How “green” is very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO)?

in Trends, Maritime Knowledge by

In recent years, international shipping has increasingly been subjected to criticism for its environmental record. It was in this context that the regulation issued by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) prohibiting vessels from burning fuel with more than 0.5% sulphur content from 1 January 2020 onwards met with a generally favourable reception. As most ocean-going vessels had previously been burning fuel oil with a sulphur content of 3.5%, it was generally assumed that the very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) would have a positive environmental impact, especially when ships are in port. So how about an initial fact check?

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Support Seafarers blocked by COVID-19 measures

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Photo by moto moto sc on Unsplash

Contribute to a global petition aiming to draw the attention of the general public to the problems of over 150,000 seafarers that cannot leave or cannot join ship crews due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative belongs to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Goodwill Maritime Ambassador for Bulgaria Capt. Andriyan Evtimov.

The purpose is to have the document signed online by at least 150,000 people – the same number of seafarers blocked by the COVID-19 and then send it to the IMO member-state governments with an appeal for immediate and urgent measures to facilitate the movement of seafaring personnel.

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Oil price crash: where’s shipping steering?

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Read about how the COVID19 pandemic induced the biggest oil price crash in history. And what is the impact on maritime shipping?

Tanker activity, USA, satellite view, end of April 2020

Economists are already referring to the global slump brought about by the coronavirus as the world’s worst-ever economic downturn – a “Greater Depression” that’s even worse than the Great Depression in 1929-32. With lockdowns, closed frontiers and stay-home restrictions reducing road, rail and air traffic to an absolute minimum and economic activity having slowed down to an almost standstill the world over, the global demand for oil has fallen through the floor. On April 20 the price of the May futures contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) plunged to never-experienced negative territory of minus $40. In other words, US oil producers actually had to pay people to buy or store their oil. Since that historic low, the price of WTI and Brent crude has recovered somewhat but still remains at levels not seen for decades. It’s a simple equation, basic supply-and-demand economics. With supply significantly outpacing demand in the global oil market, the price of “black gold” has slumped.

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