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Container port terminals unveil expansion agenda

By Moses Ebosele with agency report
02 September 2015   |   2:44 am
TO accommodate larger vessels and rising global demand, container port terminals are investing significant resources to boost capacity.
APM Terminal

APM Terminal

TO accommodate larger vessels and rising global demand, container port terminals are investing significant resources to boost capacity.

According to the 2015 Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Report, published by London’s Drewry Maritime Research, the faclilities are expected to grow at 4.5 per cent yearly through to 2019.

The report explained that Asia accounts for 60 per cent of the forecast global demand growth, adding that at the same time, the deployment of mega-ships and the formation of new mighty shipping alliances are adding to capacity pressures on terminal operators worldwide.

Meanwhile, 23 companies that Drewry considers to be global/international terminal operators are making investments to improve capacity over the next five years.

The report explained that APM Terminals and DP World are the most active in terms of the number of new projects in the pipeline “but PSA International is adding the most capacity in absolute terms, particularly, at its home port of Singapore”.

Hutchison, CMA CGM, TIL and ICTSI also have significant plans, with the latter’s expansion representing a 40 per cent increase over the current capacity of its portfolio.

The typical EBITDA margins for global/international terminal operators remain in a range from 20-45 per cent and the 2014 financial results were much in line with previous years, illustrating the consistency and reliability of container terminal operators profitability,” said top Drewry analyst Neil Davidson.

However, maintaining these margins will become increasingly challenging in the face of the demands created by bigger ships and alliances,” he added.

Meanwhile, the pace of new mega-ship deliveries is expected to pick up in 2017. All are to be deployed on the Asia-Europe trades. Already, 37 ships of 13,800-20,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) have been delivered so far this year.

A further 13 ships within this size range are due to be delivered by December, again all are bound for the same trade lane, reports Alphaliner.

Next year deliveries of ships of this size will drop to 37, including thirteen 19,000- to 20,000-TEU vessels, 11 of which are to be taken in charge by Italian-Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

The large number of mega-ship deliveries this year has resulted in a 2.3 per cent hike in total weekly capacity provided year-to-date on the Asia-North Europe trade lane, compared to the same period last year.

According to Alphaliner, supply growth would have been higher if it were not for the 75 voided sailings that carriers introduced on this route so far this year, citing the withdrawal of one weekly Asia-North Europe string by Maersk and MSC when the two carriers launched their joint 2M vessel-sharing network in January.

They plan to withdraw a second Asia-North Europe string in September owing to weak demand. Total demand on the head-haul Far East to North Europe route fell by 3.5 per cent in the first half, year on year. UASC is to receive the last two of its six A-18 Barzan class ships of 19,870 TEU in the first quarter of 2016, following the delivery of the first four in the series this year.

They are currently the world’s largest containerships in terms of nominal capacity, although, UASC officially declares them as 18,800-TEU units.

The pace of mega-ship deliveries will accelerate again in 2017, with 53 units due to arrive, including 33 ships of 18,000-21,000 TEU, including the first ships of this size for CMA CGM, Cosco, MOL and OOCL. They will be followed by a further 32 mega-ships units in 2018, including the first 18,000-TEU vessels for Evergreen.

The steady pace of ULCS [ultra large containerships] deliveries will have significant implications for the Asia-Europe trade, as it will add to the ongoing over-supply woes.

Currently, these ships of more than 15,000 TEU cannot be deployed on other tradelanes and the continued addition of ULCS capacity will threaten the delicate supply-demand balance on the trade,” a report from the shipping analysts said.

Alternatively, a number of 13,500- to 14,500-TEU ships are expected to join the Far East-North America trades. They will be the first ships of this size purpose-built for the transpacific trade.

All of the 18,000- to 20,000-TEU vessels on order, or in service to date, share similar physical dimensions. They have a breadth of 58.6 to 59 metres, allowing them to stow 23 rows of containers on deck and 21 rows in holds. They also have a similar length of 395-400 metres that fits 24 b