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CMA CGM and ENGIE join forces to co-invest in the Salamander project

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CMA CGM and ENGIE join forces to co-invest in the Salamander project. Image: CMA CGM
CMA CGM and ENGIE join forces to co-invest in the Salamander project. Image: CMA CGM
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The CMA CGM Group, a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions, and ENGIE, a global leader in low-carbon energy and services, announced plans to co-invest in the Salamander project – the first industrial and commercial unit for second-generation biomethane production – and their intention to produce up to 200,000 tons of renewable gas annually worldwide by 2028, to meet the needs of CMA CGM and the shipping industry.

Majority-owned by ENGIE and the CMA CGM Group, the site is being considered to be located in Le Havre, backed by the support of the Havre Seine Métropole urban community via the investment program “Le Havre, Ville portuaire intelligente”. The unit will be fueled by dry biomass from local wood-waste sources, along with solid recovered fuel, and will produce the biomethane via pyrogasification. The site will aim to produce 11,000 tons of biomethane annually, starting in 2026.

The two groups plan to finalize their investment decision in late 2022. A funding request has been submitted to the European Commission’s Innovation Fund. By developing the renewable gas industry and the Salamander project, both CMA CGM and ENGIE will help achieve the energy independence and energy transition goals set forth by the European Commission in the RepowerEU plan.

An objective up to 200,000 tons of renewable gas annually worldwide by 2028

The CMA CGM Group and ENGIE have taken this opportunity to state their intention to increase annual production of renewable gas in Europe and worldwide to 200,000 tons by 2028, both to meet CMA CGM’s needs and those of the shipping industry. The Salamander project will help reach that target.

The CMA CGM Group, which aims to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050, already has a fleet of 30 dual-fuel “e-methane ready” ships in operation – a figure that will rise to 77 by the end of 2026.

The dual-fuel engine technology developed by CMA CGM, which currently runs on LNG, is already capable of using bioLNG, as well as synthetic methane. This fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 67% compared with Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) from well to wake (the complete value chain). Against this backdrop, CMA CGM and ENGIE are pledging their commitment to promoting the development of the renewable gas sector at an industrial scale.

Salamander: local renewable energy and a concrete commitment to the Le Havre region

Salamander is the culmination of both groups’ desire to promote production and distribution sectors for renewable gas in Europe – particularly in France. It is the application on an industrial scale of 10 years of research and development conducted by ENGIE1 within the framework of the GAYA project, which has demonstrated the technical, economic and environmental viability of producing renewable gas.

The Salamander project also reflects CMA CGM’s close-knit connection with the Le Havre region, where the site is being considered. CMA CGM is the largest local maritime company in terms of market share, operating in the region since 1994. Its roots can even be traced back to 1863 as CGM. 15 weekly connections serve the port of Le Havre – an illustration of its strategic importance to the CMA CGM Group – and the local office employs a staff of over 400 employees.

Two French groups committed to the Coalition for the Energy of the Future to support sustainable mobility

CMA CGM and ENGIE have also been working together for several months within the Coalition for the Energy of the Future, launched at the end of 2019 during the “Assises de l’Economie de la Mer” by Rodolphe Saadé and supported by President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron. The two companies continue to work within the Coalition to ramp up the development of the energies and technologies of the future, to support new models of sustainable mobility and reduce the climate impact of transport and logistics.

Christine Cabau Woehrel, Executive Vice President Assets and Operations at CMA CGM said: “To reach our target of net-zero carbon by 2050, the CMA CGM Group is seeking to form solid industrial partnerships, led by this initiative with ENGIE that aims to produce up to 200,000 tons of renewable gas annually by 2028. Salamander is the first industrial ramp-up to emerge from the partnership, an advanced pilot helping to develop the renewable gas sector, in keeping with the goals of energy independence and the energy transition set forth by the European Commission in the RepowerEU plan.”

Edouard Sauvage, Executive Vice President Infrastructure at ENGIE, said: “ENGIE is innovating with a new local production method for second-generation biomethane using wood waste, underpinned by an energy production technology involving pyrogasification. The scale of the project reflects our ambitions and accelerated development in renewable gas production. It demonstrates our ability to support leading companies in their transition to net zero. We are delighted and proud to be carrying out this initiative in partnership with CMA CGM, moving forward together in this important milestone in our efforts to promote the energies of the future”.

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Container Shipping Lines

Xeneta forecasts “extremely challenging” 2023 for the ocean freight market

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Xeneta forecasts “extremely challenging” 2023 for the ocean freight market. Image: Pixabay
Xeneta forecasts “extremely challenging” 2023 for the ocean freight market. Image: Pixabay
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After over two years of rising rates and overstretched capacity, the rapidly cooling ocean freight market looks set for an “extremely challenging” 2023, according to Oslo-based Xeneta. An in-depth analysis of the latest real-time ocean and air freight rates, combined with expert trend forecasts, suggests that ocean cargo volumes could fall by up to 2.5%, rates will drop “significantly” and weak demand will force increased idling of vessels. The air freight market, analysts predict, will also face a turbulent twelve months.

Out of balance

From climbing to historical highs during the global pandemic, ocean freight rates have fallen away – and in the case of spot rates, dramatically so – since the summer. Xeneta’s market report, built on the foundation of the team’s crowd-sourced data from leading global shippers, suggests there’ll be no change in course for 2023, with challenging macroeconomic and geopolitical outlooks undermining confidence.

Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund says difficult times await stakeholders right across the ocean and air freight value chain.

He notes: “The cost-of-living crisis is eating into consumer spending power, leaving little appetite for imported, containerized goods. With no sign of a global panacea to remedy that, we’d expect ocean freight volumes to drop, possibly by around 2.5%. That said, if the economic situation deteriorates further, it could be even more.

“Allied to dropping volumes, we have a growing world fleet, with a nominal inflow of 1.65m TEU of capacity. Some demolitions will dent that growth, but we still expect an increase in capacity of 5.9%. Even if demolitions double from our current level of expectations, the industry would still be looking at an almost 5% expansion.”

Long-term woes

The upshot of that, Berglund explains, is overcapacity, necessitating an increased idling of assets. From a current position of “next to nothing,” Xeneta forecasts idling of up to 1m TEU – “maybe even more,” says the CEO.

This cocktail of weak demand, dropping volumes, and an increase in capacity will, inevitably, impact negatively on rates, says Berglund. He comments:

“We expect to see significant reductions. Carriers have proved adept at protecting and elevating rates during COVID, but with too much capacity and easing port congestion on most major trade lanes, they’ll be fighting losing battles in 2023. We could see spot rates on some key corridors drop below pre-pandemic levels during the first half of 2023, while long-term rates will fall rapidly as older, expensive contracts expire, and new, far lower contracts are signed. However, long-term rates will not drop below spot rates during the first half of 2023.

“As far as upcoming contract negotiations go, it’s imperative to keep an eye on the very latest market data to obtain optimal value. However, those talks will be difficult for all parties. The carriers will be desperate for volumes, but, at the same time, the shippers won’t have the high volumes that unlock the best prices. What we might see is that Freight Forwarders are the big winners, as they can find a sweet spot, serving the SMEs while playing the short market against carriers. Regardless, there’s both opportunity and challenges ahead, in the short- and long-term.”

Fasten your seat belts

One area where the ocean freight market may benefit is from a potential reduction in air freight. Xeneta says this segment faces a “bumpy ride” as lower ocean costs and better-scheduled reliability (from easing port congestion and available capacity) may tempt some shippers to make a modal shift. In a climate of increasing environmental awareness, shippers focused on sustainability may also be tempted to switch ‘general’ cargoes from the skies to the waves.

“To be fair, a shift in general volumes wouldn’t be too significant for the ocean freight carriers, but it would strongly impact on the air segment, where cargoes are obviously far smaller.”

Berglund adds that increasing ‘belly’ capacity, with easing travel restrictions, will be supplemented by the arrival of conversion and freighter orders placed during the air cargo peak. This will lead the air segment to join its ocean freight sibling in the overcapacity corner, with, he notes, “a negative impact on load factors and rates.”

Certain uncertainty

In conclusion, the Xeneta CEO underlines the complexity of challenges facing the industry, with economic uncertainty, geopolitical concern, ongoing industrial action on logistics chains, China’s continued zero-COVID policy and the combination of weak demand, easing congestion and increased freight capacity.

“I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year in advance, but there’s not that much for the industry to look forward to at present,” he states. “However, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years, predictions are almost impossible to make in a world that moves ever-faster, so there may be unknown factors waiting in the wings to influence markets.”

He continues: “For example, what happens if the Ukraine-Russia war comes to an end sooner rather than later? This could drive down certain costs again, giving consumers a positive boost. However, on the flip side, it’s important to always stay ‘on your toes,’ as we could experience a second economic downturn at the drop of a hat. These ‘what ifs’ can, yet again, throw a curveball for the industry, just as we saw when COVID hit. If we’ve learned anything in the past couple of years, it’s that planning for the unthinkable ‘what ifs’ must be top of mind.”

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The new Arctic Container Line connects Hamburg with Norway

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The new Arctic Container Line connects Hamburg with Norway. Image: Port of Hamburg
The new Arctic Container Line connects Hamburg with Norway. Image: Port of Hamburg
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The newly established shipping line “Arctic Container Line”, based in Fonnes, Norway will start its new feeder service connecting Hamburg and Bremerhaven to the Norwegian West Coast this week. The service will be covered by the 712 TEU geared vessel “RS Mistral” and comes in addition to the Rotterdam service started already in June.

Arctic Container Line was established in March 2022 and is part of the Myklebusthaug Group, who owns 6 container vessels, as well as offshore and general cargo vessels.

Line manager Eivind Bergland states in a comment that the young company has been welcomed very well by the market, and that they have positive expectations to the new service.

“The last few months has shown us that the market has confidence in us, and that our customers believe that we can add extra value through operating our own vessels in a liner service. We are now exploring possibilities of adding even more ports to our services.” said Eivind Bergland.

The Norwegian ports covered by Arctic Container Line are Egersund, Tananger, Haugesund, Bergen, Florø, Ålesund and Orkanger.

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Portchain partners with Hapag-Lloyd to deploy Portchain Connect

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Portchain partners with Hapag-Lloyd to deploy Portchain Connect. Image: Portchain
Portchain partners with Hapag-Lloyd to deploy Portchain Connect. Image: Portchain
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Portchain announced a 5-year global partnership with Hapag-Lloyd to deploy Portchain Connect across their global operations. Portchain Connect digitizes the berth alignment process between carriers and terminals, empowering them to make earlier and more frequent planning decisions for the benefit of schedule reliability and terminal asset utilization. This digital transformation will further position Hapag-Lloyd to accelerate other initiatives that rely on timely and accurate schedule information to serve their customers better.

Using Portchain Connect, Hapag-Lloyd will transform their traditional email and phone communication to a digital flow of information for aligning berth arrival information with terminals, offering their terminal network direct access to schedule updates and essential vessel call information on the platform. By taking this step, Hapag-Lloyd empowers terminals with the data to optimize their berth planning, leading to improved customer service and improved asset utilization.

“We are delighted to be working with Portchain on digitizing and streamlining our berth alignment processes and look forward to creating value for our important Terminal partners throughout our network. We believe in the power of leveraging automated data flows to optimize our Port Calls and create transparency and efficiency for our valued Marine and Port Operations teams globally’’ said Andrew Allen, Director – Terminal Partnering, Hapag-Lloyd.

Hapag-Lloyd chose to partner with Portchain because of its experience with solving berth alignment inefficiencies in container shipping, and its position as a neutral software vendor focused on creating value for both carriers and terminals. Portchain provides a platform that enables carriers and terminals to securely share their schedule and berthing data with each other through their systems and an easy-to-use web application. The unique combination of system and user-generated data ensures that any container terminal or ocean carrier can join the network – no matter how large, small or digitally mature their operation is.

Portchain Connect facilitates digital handshakes and alignment between the terminal, carrier and connected stakeholders. This alignment process enables the opportunity to capture the benefits of Just-In-Time arrivals, which the IMO estimate can reduce CO2 emissions and bunker consumption by 5.9% in the 24 hours leading up to arrival.

Portchain Connect has been adopted by 33 terminals in the past 10 months, and the growth of the network is accelerating. Network growth will be further reinforced by 3 ocean carriers trialing the platform in the coming months.

“We are excited to partner with Hapag-Lloyd to digitalize the berth alignment process with terminals across the world. Hapag-Lloyd is an ambitious ocean carrier that is taking big steps to digitalize its operations and enable Just-In-Time Arrivals with its terminal network. We are excited to help them unlock the value of their data, providing terminals with more accurate and timely information to improve terminal efficiency.” commented Niels Kristiansen, CEO & Co-Founder, Portchain.

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