Dubai to host key FIATA-RAME 2024 logistics conference


Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the 2024 FIATA RAME Field Meeting and Conference, hosted by the UAE National Association of Freight and Logistics (NAFL), is set to redefine logistics strategies in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

The pivotal event, scheduled for March 5-6, 2024, in Dubai, is a must-attend for professionals in the logistics sector.

Strategic discussions on future logistics trends

With the logistics market projected to reach USD 16.36 trillion by 2027, the MEA region emerges as a key player.

The conference will bring together industry leaders to discuss sustainable strategies and innovative solutions against global trade challenges.

A primary focus will be on environmental sustainability in logistics, with discussions on green initiatives, carbon-neutral technologies, and leveraging advancements in automation, blockchain, and AI to optimise supply chains.

Multimodal transport and resilient supply chains

Dr Stéphane Graber, FIATA Director General, emphasised the conference’s role in exploring resilient supply chain solutions in light of the ongoing crises in the Middle East.

He stated, “This is an opportunity to explore how to build a more resilient supply chain given the ongoing crises in the Middle East, with the use of multimodal transport to support and facilitate the industry cargo flow.”

Nadia Abdul Aziz, President of NAFL, pointed out the UAE’s strategic importance as a logistics hub for the GCC and wider MEA region.

She highlighted, “With its focus on key themes, insightful discussions, and networking opportunities, the conference will contribute to shaping a more efficient, sustainable, and collaborative future for the logistics and trade industry in the MEA region and beyond.”

CMA CGM receives first container ship in a series with unique design


The CMA CGM Group has announced the delivery of the pioneering CMA CGM Mermaid, the inaugural vessel in a series of 10 cutting-edge 2,000 TEU container ships propelled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). These vessels will gradually serve routes in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Distinguished by their innovative design aimed at enhancing energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, these new boxships will increase CMA CGM's extensive fleet of approximately 620 vessels, including over 30 already utilizing alternative energies. Their operation will result in emissions of up to -20% CO2 compared to conventional maritime fuel designs (very low sulfur oil).

This delivery signifies a milestone in the French ocean carrier's fleet modernization initiative, reflecting an investment exceeding US$15 billion, while it also propels the Group closer to achieving its Net Zero Carbon objective by 2050, with nearly 120 ships anticipated to be powered by low-carbon energies by 2028.

The inception of this new generation of container ships stems from collaborative efforts among industry stakeholders. Distinguished by their unconventional lines and architecture, these ships were meticulously crafted in partnership with Chantiers de l'Atlantique, a renowned French company based in Saint-Nazaire, globally acknowledged for its ship design and construction prowess.

The transformation of the conceptual design into an industrial prototype was overseen by the Danish engineering firm Odense Marine Technique (OMT).

Construction of these vessels was entrusted to Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) in South Korea, the leading shipyard worldwide in terms of performance, overseeing every aspect of container ship assembly.

Furthermore, GTT, a French firm specializing in technologies for maritime transport and liquefied natural gas storage, played a pivotal role in the project by contributing to the design and conception of the gas chain and storage tank with a combined capacity of 1,053 m3.

Committed to enhancing energy efficiency across its operations, CMA CGM made the strategic decision to optimize the design of its latest series of ships. A defining feature of this new design is its ratio of 204.29 meters in length to 29.6 meters in width, meticulously crafted to enhance both hydrodynamic and aerodynamic performance.

Distinguishing themselves as the first ships in the CMA CGM fleet to feature superstructures at the front, these vessels position the bridge and accommodations upfront, ensuring superior aerodynamic performance and increased loading capacity compared to conventional designs.

Further enhancing hydrodynamic efficiency is the incorporation of an innovative almost inverted straight bow, complete with an integrated bow bulb. This design refinement translates to a significant 15% reduction in fuel consumption per trip.

Powered by LNG, a cleaner alternative to conventional fuels, these ships achieve remarkable reductions in emissions: sulfur oxide emissions by 99%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 92%, and fine particles by 91%. The 12-megawatt MAN engine, fueled by LNG cooled to -161°C, propels these ships, which are also equipped to carry biogas produced from bio-waste (-67% eq. CO2) and are adaptable to e-methane (-85% eq. CO2) derived from decarbonized hydrogen.

Furthermore, each of the 10 new container ships will feature an alternator coupled to the main propulsion engine, ensuring the seamless provision of power for onboard electrical systems during voyages.

A pinnacle of innovation within this new generation of container ships is the installation of a highly potent fuel cell, set to be incorporated into the final vessel of the series slated for delivery in January 2025. This fuel cell, powered by hydrogen with a 1MW energy capacity, ensures zero emissions while the ship is berthed.

Beyond their groundbreaking technologies aimed at maximizing energy efficiency and environmental performance, these ships prioritize the comfort and well-being of their crew members with modern interiors and amenities.

From February 2024 to January 2025, the delivery of the ten new vessels will be staggered, serving primarily in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean for short-haul transportation of goods.

Between April and July, six ships from the series will commence operations on the Intra-Northern-Europe route, linking Baltic and Scandinavian ports to the hubs of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Subsequently, from late September to late November, four additional vessels will be deployed on the Intra-Mediterranean route.

These vessels, equipped to accommodate 45’ containers that can be directly loaded onto trailers, present a more energy-efficient solution compared to road transport across Europe and the Mediterranean region. Embarking on its journey to Northern Europe, the CMA CGM Mermaid will set sail from the port of Busan in South Korea.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges enhances bollard capacity at Noordzee Terminal


The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has recently enhanced the bollard capacity at PSA Antwerp's Noordzee Terminal by upgrading four bollards from 150 tonnes to seven new 250-tonne bollards.

This upgrade aims to minimize wasted space between vessels during docking. Dynamic mooring analysis revealed that the older bollards were at risk of overloading due to the increasing size of ships mooring at the terminal.

The Noordzee Terminal was established approximately 26 years ago when most ships had a capacity of around 5,000 TEUs. Since then, the quay wall has been deepened by three meters to accommodate larger drafts of incoming vessels. Various technical interventions have been implemented over the years to optimize the use of quay length.

Installing the new bollards represents the final step in ensuring that multiple 24,000 TEU ships can dock at the terminal most efficiently, minimizing wasted space.

Furthermore, calculating bollard capacity involves considering numerous factors such as the speed of passing vessels, their water displacement, wind, tide, and the type of mooring ropes utilized. The existing quay structure comprises an anchored diaphragm wall with a quay wall head at the top.

To accommodate the new bollards, cutouts were made in the quay wall head at four locations, where steel frames were sequentially installed. The new bollards were then mounted on these frames, which were chemically anchored and recessed into the completed cutouts. Additionally, to enhance overall stability and accommodate higher bollard loads, the frames were anchored into the subsoil using 50-meter-long tensioned anchors.

Before the implementation of this bollard expansion project, extensive study and review were conducted by the engineering, architecture, and consultancy firm Sweco, along with independent technical expert SECO Belgium. This comprehensive analysis pushed the boundaries of what was achievable.

"Collaborating closely with PSA Antwerp, we identified the optimal locations and prerequisites for the project. The construction works were executed by Hye NV from Burcht, showcasing excellent coordination and teamwork among all involved parties," stated a Port of Antwerp-Bruges spokesperson.

Suez Canal toll earnings set to continue falling, as vessels re-route around the Cape of Good Hope


As we enter into the third month of escalating conflict in Yemen that has prompted significant rerouting of vessels with far-reaching consequences for global trade and transport, the latest trade data from Veson Nautical indicates a notable shift in traffic patterns. Geopolitical tensions and conflict have raised maritime security concerns in the region, given its strategic importance and critical maritime trade routes.

In addition, the ongoing crisis in Yemen has implications for traffic through the Suez Canal and therefore Egypt, which may incur substantial costs due to the disruptions in trade and transport. Although this situation could potentially serve as a catalyst for increased diplomatic efforts to broker peace, considering the economic losses incurred by the Egyptian government as a result of the crisis. Understanding the economic impact on Egypt and specifically the Suez Canal might encourage a more proactive approach towards resolving the conflict and mitigating its adverse effects on global trade.

We take a look at the changes in the Suez Canal toll fees for crude Tankers, Bulkers, LNG, LPG and Containers over the period spanning from the beginning of 2023 to early January 2024. This analysis provides valuable insight into the financial implications for the Suez Canal and for the Egyptian government as Suez Canal transits reach a low.

Overall toll fees fall c.40% since November 2023

South Korean forwarders look at air and rail alternatives amid container freight surges


A seminar organised by Korea International Trade Association on 30 January heard that South Korean exporters and forwarders are inclined to substitute air and rail freight for sea freight, as they expect the Red Sea crisis to last until at least mid-2024. The crisis has caused container freight costs to increase by 44% from December 2023.

During the seminar, Seo Don-seok, team leader at forwarding group Samsung SDS’ digital platform Cello Square said, “Transportation times are increasing and there are potential risks, so reinsurance companies have recently announced that it is difficult to compensate for cargo insurance. Shippers’ burdens are increasing every day.

“If this persists, forwarders will shift to air freight, prioritising high-value products. It’s very likely that as a result, air freight will go up.”

Seo suggested that cargo bound for the US and Mexico should be railed or trucked via Long Beach.

He said, “Rail is the cheapest, but transhipment by sea takes more time, taking two to three weeks. While it takes about seven to 10 days to use a single truck, a team truck driven by two drivers arrives in about three days and is the fastest, but is more expensive.”

Meanwhile, sea freight rates to Europe have risen to the point of being on par with rail freight.

Seo noted, “We recommend railing goods from Xi'an, China using the Trans-China Railway, which is more reliable than other regional platforms.”

The diversions round the Cape of Good Hope have also made it difficult to secure shipping slots.

Other forwarders said that it is also taking a long time for empty containers to be returned that they now have to secure containers before arranging shipping.

Ramses Logistics director Bae Byung-seok called the Houthi scourge in the Red Sea the second major logistical crisis after Covid-19.

He said, “The Red Sea crisis won’t end anytime soon. We expect the situation to remain into the first half of the year. Now, we have to start looking for empty containers before competing for slots. That said, we expect that Chinese exports will decline after the Lunar New Year, so shipping capacity won’t be so tight. We see that liner operators are blanking sailings as freight rates are cooling off.

“In abnormal circumstances, as was the case during the pandemic, we must endure even if local inventory take two to three months longer to clear out.”

Hwang Gyu-young, a team leader at forwarder LX Pantos, urged attendees to sit out the situation, as circumstances will eventually normalise.

He said, “The Red Sea attacks occurred suddenly and this placed a premium on freight rates. We believe the situation will be resolved. Freight rates will stay elevated until end of 1Q 2024, and correct gradually.”