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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Reuters News

(Photo: Hapag-Lloyd)

Hapag-Lloyd: Asia Business 'Overall Stable' Amid Virus Outbreak

German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd said on Tuesday its business in Asia was "overall stable," although the coronavirus outbreak had extended the traditionally slack period around China's Lunar New Year holiday.China's efforts to control the virus had extended the normal factory shutdowns for the New Year festivities to anywhere between Feb. 8 and Feb. 14, depending on the region, a spokesman for the world's fifth largest container carrier told Reuters.However, Hapag-Lloyd's fleet was operating largely as normal…

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Coronavirus Slows China's Belt and Road Push

When President Xi Jinping made his first state visit this year to Myanmar and signed new infrastructure contracts, there was no indication of the obstacle about to trip up China's plan for railways, ports and highways around the world: the coronavirus.Travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease, which has now killed more than 1,800 people, have idled much of the world's second-largest economy and choked key elements of Xi's signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).Chinese workers cannot get to overseas projects…

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Coronavirus Leaves China-bound Tankers Stranded

The coronavirus's effect on energy markets is worsening, as the sharp fall in demand in China, the world's largest importer of crude, is stranding oil cargoes off the country's coast and prompting shippers to seek out other Asian destinations.More than 1,360 people have died from the coronavirus in China, which has disrupted the world's second largest economy and shaken energy markets, with international benchmark Brent crude oil down 15% since the beginning of the year.Major international energy forecasters expect demand to fall in this quarter…

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Coronavirus Disrupts Air and Sea Freight, Prices to Rise -DSV

China's fast-spreading coronavirus is squeezing air and sea freight capacity in the country with a spike in freight rates a likely consequence, one of the world's biggest transport and logistics companies said on Friday.The spread of the deadly virus has shut down many cities and factories in China and disrupted global air travel."We are already now seeing capacity problems on air freight," Jens Bjorn Andersen, chief executive of freight forwarder DSV Panalpina said. "Sea freight is also being impacted."Shipping lines are re-routing cargoes and reducing calls to Chinese ports…

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Coronavirus Disrupts Global Container Shipping

China's fast-spreading coronavirus is throwing the global container shipping trade out of sync, with lines re-routing cargoes and reducing calls to Chinese ports, setting the scene for months of delivery delays ahead, industry sources said.The spread of the deadly virus has shut down cities and factories in China and disrupted global air travel.China's decision to extend its Lunar New Year holiday period until Feb. 10 has compounded logistical complications, despite its ports staying open.

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US Trade Deficit Narrows for First Time in Six Years

The U.S. trade deficit fell for the first time in six years in 2019 as the White House’s trade war with China curbed the import bill, keeping the economy on a moderate growth path despite a slowdown in consumer spending and weak business investment.The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday also showed the Trump administration’s “America First” agenda decreased the flow of goods last year, with exports posting their first decline since 2016. President Donald Trump, who has dubbed himself “the tariff man…

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Philippines Ports Open to All Ships Despite Virus Fears

The Philippines said on Wednesday its ports remain open to all ships, even those from China, in order not to disrupt the cargo supply chain, but the crew of vessels arriving from the coronavirus-hit nation will be barred from disembarking.All foreigners traveling from China and its two special administrative regions - Hong Kong and Macau - are currently barred from entering the Philippines amid a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak that has killed nearly 500 people in China.A Chinese man who arrived from China's Wuhan city, where the virus emerged last year, has also died in the Philippines.Co

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Coronavirus Paralyzes Oil, Gas Sales into China

Short-term sales of crude oil and liquefied natural gas into China almost ground to a halt this week as the coronavirus slows economic activity and cuts demand and buyers ponder legal action to avoid having to honor purchase agreements, trade sources said.Typically, trade would have revived after the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January, but China has extended the break into February to try to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has claimed nearly 500 lives.As a result…

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DP World Suspends Staff Travel to China

DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, has suspended all staff travel to China until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak there.Companies including Facebook, LG Electronics and Standard Chartered are among those restricting travel for employees to China, where the death toll from a flu-like virus rose above 100 on Tuesday."All travel to China is suspended until further notice, unless for emergency purposes.

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World Seaborne Coal Trade Rose 0.7% in 2019

Seaborne coal trade around the world grew 0.7% last year, helped by higher output in China and Indonesia and more export activity by Indonesia, Australia, Russia and Canada, Germany's VDKI coal importers lobby said on Friday.Imports and exports, counted together, rose to 1.218 billion tonnes from 1.210 billion tonnes in 2018, VDKI Managing Director Franz-Josef Wodopia said in an speech made available to Reuters, citing VDKI estimates.Within the 2019 total, trade in coking coal used for steelmaking dropped by 1% to 287 million tonnes as steel production declined, the Verein der Kohlenimporteure

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Ships Anchor Offshore as French Unions Block Ports

French trade unions blocked ports and disrupted power production on Thursday, searching for a way to force President Emmanuel Macron to ditch a planned pension overhaul as the impact of transport strikes weakens.Ferry services to Britain suffered delays and at least 20 bulk carriers waiting to export cereals were kept at anchor outside France's major ports, data from financial data provider Refinitiv showed. Electricity output was down about 9% of available capacity.The public…

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Maersk Chief Warns EU Antitrust Policy Benefits China, US

Strict EU enforcement of competition rules prevents the development of the global champions necessary to compete with Chinese and U.S. companies, the head of shipping company Maersk warned in an interview."Is it really a good idea that we don't allow the creation of a European global champion? In doing so, we risk being outperformed by a Chinese company, over which the European Union has no influence," Maersk CEO Soren Skou told Danish business daily Finans.A Maersk spokeswoman confirmed his comments to Reuters.Skou is a member of the European Round Table for Industry (ERT)…

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China Tax Waiver for Cleaner Ship Fuel Exports

China has approved a long-awaited tax waiver on exports of cleaner ship fuel, paving the way for refiners to boost output, though Beijing may initially limit shipments to focus on growing its coastal marine fuel market, state refiner officials say.Ships globally have switched to lower sulphur fuels, or use emissions-removing devices, to comply with new rules imposed by the International Maritime Organization this year.China's State Council, or cabinet, gave the go-ahead to waive taxes on the 0.5% or very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO)…

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Mideast Tensions Create Insurance Headache for Tanker Owners

Even as the United States and Iran appear to signal a keenness to avoid further conflict, oil and gas shipowners are bracing to pay a price for the war of words that culminated in rocket strikes in Iraq over the last week - higher insurance bills.According to industry sources, payments known as war risk premiums for tankers shuttling through the Strait of Hormuz could rise significantly, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to shipping costs in some cases that will ultimately…

Containership Grounds in the Bosphorus Strait

A foreign cargo ship ran aground in Istanbul's Bosphorus strait on Friday, requiring a rescue operation and prompting authorities to temporarily close the picturesque and crowded waterway running through Turkey's largest city.There were no injuries or casualties, the governor's office said, adding that the ship had reported engine failure shortly before its grounding near the shore.There was no damage to the concrete walkway running along the shore, Reuters witnesses said.The Bosphorus…

Hundreds Petition Against Erdogan's Canal Project

Hundreds of people in Istanbul have signed petitions in the past two days opposing a massive canal project championed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, which they say will wreak environmental havoc in the city.The proposed 45-km (28-mile) Kanal Istanbul on the western fringes of Turkey's largest city would connect the Black Sea to the north and the Marmara Sea to the south.Erdogan says it will ease traffic and prevent accidents on the natural Bosphorus strait, one of the world's busiest waterways…

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Singapore Jails Tanker Captain in Shell Theft Case

The captain of a Vietnamese oil tanker has been jailed for over five years in Singapore for his role in a scheme that saw around $150 million of oil stolen from Shell's biggest refinery over several years.Doan Xuan Than, 47, was sentenced to 66 months in prison on Thursday, a spokesman for the State Courts of Singapore said, becoming the second person jailed in a case that also involves former employees of Royal Dutch Shell who allegedly conspired to siphon oil from the firm's Singapore refinery.The theft…

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Maersk, Tide Maritime Targeted in Petrobras Probe

Brazilian authorities on Wednesday targeted Maersk and other companies for allegedly paying bribes to get an edge in securing shipping contracts with state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, in the latest phase of a sprawling graft probe.Federal prosecutors said in a statement that Denmark's Maersk, the world's largest shipping company, was involved in allegedly paying $3.4 million in bribes related to 11 shipping contracts with Petrobras, worth 592 million reais ($141.07 million).Maersk was not immediately able to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Reportedly, the impending trade deal depends heavily on significant increases in China imports of U.S. agricultural products. Image Credit: AdobeStock / © Igor Strukov

U.S. sets Trade Terms, Beijing So Far Silent

Washington has set its terms for a trade deal with China, offering to suspend some tariffs on Chinese goods and cut others in exchange for Beijing's buying more American farm goods, U.S. sources said on Thursday.Beijing has yet to confirm whether it is on board with the proposal, although officials will hold a press briefing Friday night local time to update progress on the talks, the State Council Information Office said. Officials from the state planner, ministry of finance, foreign ministry, agriculture ministry and ministry of commerce will attend.In the hours since U.S.

Chinese Tanker Spurns Malaysian Inspections

An oil tanker, which shipping data showed was managed by a Chinese company under U.S. sanctions, refused to allow an inspection by maritime authorities while anchored in Malaysian waters, Malaysia's maritime agency said.Silvana III's commercial manager is Kunlun Shipping Co Ltd, according to shipping transparency website Equasis.org.Kunlun is one of several firms placed under U.S. sanctions this year for alleged involvement in transporting oil from Iran.The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said the Silvana III, which anchored off Kuala Kurau on Malaysia's west coast on Dec.

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Pelosi to Speak as U.S. Closes in on USMCA Deal

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold a news conference on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. Mexico Canada (USMCA) trade deal as U.S. and Canadian officials prepared to fly to Mexico City to work on final changes to the agreement."We're close. We're not quite finished yet, we're within range," Pelosi told a forum of chief executives on Monday evening.Her office did not elaborate on any announcement but she will be accompanied at the news conference by Representative Richard Neal…

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Fuel Market Calm ahead of IMO Changeover

Fears about a shortage of diesel and other middle distillates stemming from new marine pollution regulations have receded, with distillate premiums falling to some of the lowest levels for two years.From the start of 2020, ocean-going ships will be required to use low-sulphur fuels or employ exhaust gas cleaning systems, known has scrubbers, under pollution control rules approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).Fuel traders and shipowners have warned for several…

Pic: CMA CGM

CMA CGM to Raise $2bn Via Selling Terminal, Ships

French container shipping giant  CMA CGM plans to sell selected port terminals, ships and other assets to raise roughly $2 billion to finance its acquisition of CEVA Logistics, according to Reuters.Chinese state-owned conglomerate China Merchants Port has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with CMA CGM to acquire interests in a portfolio of 10 terminals from the French container line and its affiliates via Terminal Link for a total consideration of $955 million.As part of the deal…

Houthis Release South Korean, Saudi vessels

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement released three vessels and 16 people it had seized, South Korea's Foreign Ministry and a Houthi military source in Yemen said on Wednesday.The seizure on Sunday was the latest incident at sea around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a Western-backed coalition of Arab states against the Houthis, who control the capital and most population centres and have been accused of attacking shipping.Of the vessels freed on Tuesday, two were South Korean and one was Saudi Arabia-flagged…

River dredging operations in the State of Louisiana (CREDIT: Port of New Orleans)

US Funds $30 million for Coastal Flood Protection

The U.S. government's oceans and waterways agency will provide $30 million to improve coastal resilience, officials said, aiming to reduce the impacts of worsening storms, flooding and rising seas in nearly half of U.S. states.Grants through the program are designed to restore or expand coastal wetlands, dunes, reefs, mangroves and barrier islands that are key to coastal protection, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in an announcement.Coastlines worldwide are being damaged or threatened by more extreme and destructive weather…

Pic: Sinopec

Sinopec Builds 100 Barge VLSFO Fleet

Chinese energy giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) is planning to build a fleet of 100 barges over the next three years as part of its mission to become a major regional supplier of the IMO 2020-compliant very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).According to a report from Reuters, this would be one of the top Asian refiner’s biggest shipping investments, Sinopec hopes the fleet would serve its stated ambition to become a top regional supplier of VLSFO.The fleet would include new orders of 50 vessels of 8…