Global trade, shipping and energy conglomerate Maersk Line in March signed a new building order with shipping and logistics services supplier China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (Cosco) Shipyard for seven 3 600 twenty-foot equivalent container vessels.
The order, of which the price is being kept confidential, is the first step in Maersk Line’s investment programme that will see $15-billion invested in new vessel building, retrofits, containers and procuring other equipment over the next five years.
The investment plan will enable Maersk Line to add capacity in line with growth in global container shipping demand, while also replacing less efficient chartered tonnage.
The vessels will be delivered between April and November 2017 and the order includes an option for two additional vessels to be added within eight months.
“The new vessels are needed specifically from 2017 to enable Maersk Line to grow with the market without adding more tonnage than needed. “The order was determined using a running tonnage plan forecast, based on expected market growth and, subsequently, determined how much tonnage Maersk Line will need in the coming years.
“We foresee that to grow with the market, Maersk Line will need new vessels from 2017 onwards,” Maersk Line new buildings head Michael Heimann says.
The new vessels that will be used by Maersk Line short-sea hauls, subsidiary Seago Line, will have a length of 200 m, a width of 35.2 m and a 10 m draft.
Heimann further tells Engineering News that “these vessels will provide a significant slot cost advantage of about 25% over the vessels they will replace.
“By replacing less efficient tonnage with larger new builds, we are lowering the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per container kilometre and thereby contributing to our 2020 CO2 emissions reduction target”.
He highlights that “it is also important that our vessels are compliant with the sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions limit”.
On January 1, SOx emission limits came into force in the Baltic and Northern sea regions, where Seago Line operates, creating an Emission Control Area.
These SOx emissions limits require vessels to sail on ultralow sulphur fuels and/or use alternative methods to remove SOx from the engine emissions. Noncompliance with these restrictions will result in fines.
The new vessels to be delivered by Cosco will sail on compliant marine gas oil rather than traditional heavy fuel oil or liquefied natural gas, Heimann says.
Meanwhile, he notes that challenges in vessel building include pushing boundaries to design and build the most efficient vessels; however, he states that Maersk Line has mitigated these challenges by working closely with the yards and Maersk Maritime Technology to find the best possible solutions.
Heimann further notes that “there is indeed a high global demand for education and development of skills within the shipping industry, especially for qualified engineers, which are currently lacking. This is well known within the industry, and is an issue for most shipping lines and not just in South Africa. We obtain our engineers from our current sourcing areas. And we do run cadet programmes in various locations including South Africa”.