3 Things to Look Out for in 2016

 21 Dec 2015    Carriers, Container Handling, Environment , Global Economy/Trade, Going Places, Politics, Port Governance, Port Planning, Ports

In 2016 the maritime industry is set to be influenced by 3 major events that will impact the industry and the wider supply chain massively. Below is an outline of each three.

Container Weight Verification

On July 1, 2016, the long awaited container weight verification (CWV) scheme will come into effect. The plan is to ensure containers are not over or underweight in order to render ships safely weighted and secure from ever cracking apart at sea. Quite how CWV will be regulated remains unclear, yet the onus is to be on shippers to ensure all weights are accounted for. The IMO has recently amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to state that there are two ways of weighing a container.

  • Method 1: Weighing a container once packed
  • Method 2: Weighing all cargo and contents of the container and adding that to the stated container weight

Method 1 is getting most of the early attention, and this is the method that would implicate ports all the more, as that would be the ideal place to weigh the container. Again, it is unclear how this will be done, but implementing  weighing technology on port equipment is one option.

Simon Everett, Managing Director of weighing specialist Strainstall, said of the impending ruling: “In early 2016 we can expect to see the individual IMO member states clarifying a number of critical unknowns that will enable solutions to be implemented in the knowledge that they will fulfil the requirements.

“Chief amongst these is a defining of the accuracy requirements of the weighing systems to be used to obtain the Verified Gross Mass (VGM). 

“The SOLAS amendment also calls for weighing systems to be certified under the requirements of each IMO member state so certification requirements for weighing systems will be clarified allowing equipment suppliers to obtain certification for their solutions.

“In the UK, the MCA is currently working with the industry and its European counterparts to define these two critical requirements and it’s hoped and expected there will be a considerable degree of harmonisation globally on these fronts.”

Panama Canal Expansion to Open

After many starts and stop-starts, the Panama Canal Expansion is due to be completed in April, 2016, offering a new lane of traffic for ships of around 13,000 TEU – a big increase on the current 5,000 TEU maximum ship size.

US ports have long been dredging and preparing for the larger ship sizes, and the scramble will soon begin to see who receives the bigger ships first. At the beginning of 2015 there was mass congestion along the US West Coast, and it seemed at that time that carriers may opt to utilise the new canal route to supersede the region and use the US South Coast or East Coast. However, the congestion has since cleared and the West Coast ports have had a very good 2016, meaning they look to maintain their solid market dominance.

Suez Canal Expansion: Part 2

Shortly after completing one expansion, Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, Head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), formally approved the construction of a new 9.5-kilometre-long, 17 metre deep and 250 metre wide access channel to Port Said East. The new channel is planned to permit uninterrupted vessel traffic to the Suez Canal Container Terminal.

The Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) handled 3.4 million TEU in 2014, and is part of the APM Terminals (APMT) Global Terminal Network, being a joint-venture between APMT, with a 55% majority share, COSCO Pacific and the SCA.

The Suez Canal is seemingly in a constant battle with the Panama Canal to be recognised as the world’s premier trade lane for shipping, and given it can now have two-ships passing along its new stretch, it just maybe the world’s most vital trade lane.