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23rd February 2018

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Jon Addison: Specialised trucks mean more freight on roads, not less

There seems to be a widespread belief that heavy trucks will be tossed off our roads and freight moved by rail instead. Photo / 123RF

With the new coalition Government holding the reins there seems to be a widespread belief that heavy trucks will be tossed off our roads and freight moved by rail instead.

Unfortunately that’s almost certainly not going to happen, for a variety of reasons.

The most compelling is the expected growth in freight. A national freight demand study reckons total freight moved in 2017 was about 260 million tonne, growing to 354 million tonne by 2037. About 7 per cent of that is now moved by rail. If rail tripled its share of freight by 2037 there would still be 20 million tonne of the growth to be handled by trucks.

That’s 8 per cent more than carted by trucks this year, meaning more, or larger, trucks on the road.

Almost everyone in the freight industry agrees that coastal shipping, rail and road transport all have roles to play in freight movement. Freight forwarders such as Mainfreight are already among the highest users of rail.

However, the very nature of freight movements around New Zealand make it almost impossible for rail to double, let alone triple, its share of the task.

In the early colonial days most freight was carted on river boats and coastal ships. After the first railways were built in 1863 it soon became obvious trains could move freight to more places than boats could, without being hampered by wind and tide. Now coastal shipping moves about 2 per cent of freight.

After World War I trucks became increasingly efficient at moving freight and the Government, which of course owned the railways, began in 1931 to introduce measures to protect rail freight, culminating in Bob Semple’s 1936 ban on trucks carting more than 30 miles (50km). Protection of rail was scaled back in 1977 and abolished in 1983.

One of the hurdles to a rail comeback is that heavy trucks – over 3500kg loaded weight – have become increasingly specialised. There is little opportunity for trains to replace concrete agitator trucks, for example.

Although there is a very efficient railway line from the gigantic Kaingaroa Forest to the Port of Tauranga, there’s probably no other log cartage operation with sufficient scale to replace trucks. Livestock trucks, fertiliser trucks, fuel tankers, milk tankers and many other trucks operate miles from any railway line.

Then there are delivery trucks, from the big tractor/semi-trailers delivering to supermarkets to little four-wheelers dropping off a new fridge. Or trucks taking supplies to rural centres too small for a railway line to be economic.

In fact of the 132,000 heavy trucks on the roads, only 23,000 are operated by the road freight industry. Put another way, just 19 per cent of freight is general freight and when distance is taken into account, just 8 per cent of the annual tonne/km carted is general freight. The biggest proportion, 29 per cent, is manufactured and retail goods, followed closely by logs and dairy.

Rail and coastal freight are best at carting bulk freight that is not time-sensitive over long distances. New Zealand’s small, widely dispersed population restricts opportunities for that. I once sat at a level crossing in North Carolina as an extremely long train passed, carting only orange juice from Florida, probably to New York. That one train probably contained more than New Zealand’s annual consumption of orange juice.

There are other handicaps, too. For example, the most efficient freight trains in the United States cart shipping containers two high. New Zealand’s small rail tunnels don’t allow that.

Another issue is that while modern freight handling systems have greatly reduced damage and loss of goods, most problems arise during loading and unloading. Most rail freight has to be carted to and from the train by trucks, which means three times as many handling events compared with a single truck journey.

Just as in the 1880s trains took over from boats because they could cart freight to more places more quickly, trucks have since overtaken rail for the same reason.

The combination of an expanding freight task and the difficulties rail faces in increasing its share mean we’re more likely to see more trucks on our roads than fewer.

• Jon Addison is a retired journalist who specialised in commercial vehicles and road transport for 30 years.

Transport concerns unfounded: minister

Suggesting the Government was not going ahead with roading projects which do not exist is misleading, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

Responding to National Party transport spokeswoman Judith Collins claims the Government was diverting financing, Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said the New Zealand Transport Agency had advised funding for road upgrades could not be redirected into rail.

“National’s concerns are unfounded. The Mill Rd Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing.

“The Labour-led Government has not altered any existing roading projects except Auckland’s East-West link and officials are working to identify a lower-cost, better-value option.”

Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said it was important to note the other “highway projects” referred to in National’s petition did not exist.

They were election campaign promises made by National in August last year and never costed or funded.

“To suggest the Government isn’t going ahead with projects that don’t exist is misleading. And to suggest non-existing funding be diverted into rail is nonsensical.”

Judith Collins. Photo NZ Herald

Judith Collins. Photo NZ Herald

Ms Collins launched national petitions yesterday aimed at saving national regional highway projects.

Regional highway projects were at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams, she said.

More National Party MPs joined Ms Collins’ campaign today, strengthening what could be an early tilt at the party leadership if leader Bill English decides to stand down.

They are David Bennett (Hamilton East), Andrew Falloon (Rangitata), Todd Muller (Bay of Plenty), Scott Simpson (Coromandel), and Simon Bridges (Tauranga). Ms Collins and Messrs Muller and Bridges are seen as likely challengers.

Ms Collins said National committed to a large number of important regional highway projects throughout New Zealand as the next stage in the successful Roads of National Significance programme to build a modern highway network.

The roads would improve safety and travel times, better connect regions and boost regional economic growth.

Ms Collins said the Transport Minister now had several of those projects under review.

”That’s not good enough. Our regional communities deserve them and the National Party is committed to fighting for them.”

To ensure the voice of each region was heard, National was launching a series of petitions so the public could show the Government how important the projects were, she said.

Each MP responsible for their road would be taking their online and physical petition to present to the Government later this year.


National’s list of affected roads

• Upgrade of Redoubt-Mill Rd from Manukau and Flat Bush to Papakura and Drury.

• Extension of Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Kaimai Range, and from Cambridge to Tirau.

• Continuous four-lane extension of Northern Motorway from Warkworth to Whangarei.

• East-west link road between Onehunga-Penrose industrial area and State Highways 1 and 20.

• Tauranga to Katikati Rd as continuous four-late state highway.

• Four-laning of Napier to Hastings Expressway.

•  Otaki to north of Levin expressway.

• Christchurch Northern Motorway between Belfast and Pegasus.

• Four-lane SH1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton.

National Party to petition govt over ‘highway projects’

The National Party is launching a series of petitions to drum up support for major highway projects which it says are at risk of not going ahead.

Judith Collins

National transport spokesperson Judith Collins. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The government derided the move as “misleading” and “nonsensical” and said National never costed or funded many of the promised roads.

National’s transport spokesperson Judith Collins said the Labour-led government had wrongly thrown many crucial transport links into doubt.

“Don’t keep saying you’re not committing. Tell us what you want to do,” she said.

“Because right at the moment – after some months in the job – we’ve still got no idea what they’ve committed to.”

The government had already scrapped plans for Auckland’s contentious East-West motorway link and was reviewing other projects around the country.

A Minister of Transport spokesperson said the government had not altered any existing roading project other than the East-West link.

“The Mill Road Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing.

“It important to note that the other ‘highway projects’ referred to in National’s petition do not exist. They were election campaign promises made by National in August and never costed or funded.

“To suggest the government isn’t going ahead with projects that don’t exist is misleading.”

The affected roads include:

  • The upgrade of the Redoubt-Mill Road corridor from Manukau and Flat Bush to Papakura and Drury
  • The extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range, and from Cambridge to Tirau
  • The continuous four lane extension of the Northern Motorway from Warkworth to Whangarei.
  • An East West Link Road project between the Onehunga-Penrose industrial area and State Highways 1 and 20
  • The Tauranga to Katikati Road project as a continuous four lane State Highway with wide lanes and safety measures
  • The four laning of the Napier to Hastings Expressway
  • The Otaki to north of Levin expressway road project
  • The Christchurch Northern Motorway between Belfast and Pegasus
  • The construction of the four-lane State Highway 1 link between Christchurch and Ashburton

Ms Collins said the projects had been put at risk by the government’s “obsession with Auckland trams”.

“Roads from Northland right through to Ashburton are being “reviewed” while the government attempts to divert billions of dollars to pet light rail projects.”

A spokesperson for the Minister of Transport said that concern was “unfounded” however, because funding for road upgrades could not be redirected into rail.

“And to suggest non-existing funding be diverted into rail is nonsensical.”

National MPs will present petitions to the government later this year.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and Hamilton East MP David Bennett will head the petition to extend the link between the Bay of Plenty and Hamilton.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Coromandel MP Scott Simpson also announced their campaign championing the Katikati-to-Tauranga four-lane Road of National Significance.

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon is spearheading the petition to extend the highway between Christchurch and Ashburton to four lanes.

Tanker and ship collision near Shanghai leaves 32 missing

  • 7 January 2018

Thirty-two people are missing after an oil tanker collided with a cargo ship off China’s east coast, near Shanghai.

The Sanchi tanker, carrying 136,000 tonnes of Iranian oil worth $60m (£44m), caught fire after the crash and has been burning for nearly 24 hours.

China’s ministry of transport said the crew – 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis – were missing, with rescue efforts hampered by the fierce blaze.

“Sanchi is floating and burning,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts.”

The 21-strong crew of the cargo ship were rescued, the ministry said.

Poor weather and plumes of smoke rising from the tanker are making rescue attempts difficult, Mohammad Rastad, the head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian television.

It is the first major accident involving an Iranian oil tanker since international sanctions limiting the country’s oil exports were lifted in January 2016.

Korean coast guard handout shows the fire on the Sanchi off China's east coatImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe tanker was on its way to South Korea

“This is a big spill,” oceanographer Dr Simon Boxall told the BBC.

“Potentially the entire load, 136,000 tonnes, could end up in the ocean, and that would put this in the top 10 spills of all time, so it is significant,” he said.

“The only positive side is that, at the moment, the winds are keeping the oil offshore. The chances of it reaching the shore are fairly slim. But we are looking at a lot of oil here and the water depth in that area is only about 50m to 60m, so in the immediate area it will have a dramatic impact.”

The collision happened on Saturday night, about 160 nautical miles (296 km) off the coast of Shanghai.

Eight Chinese ships have been sent to carry out the search-and-rescue operation, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

South Korea has also sent a coastguard ship and a helicopter to aid the relief effort.

The tanker had been sailing to Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran, according to Reuters ship tracking data. It was carrying a cargo equivalent to slightly under a million barrels.

The Hong Kong-registered cargo ship, CF Crystal, was carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain from the US to Guangdong province in southern China. Its rescued crew were all Chinese nationals, the country’s transport ministry said.

The top 5 transport stories in 2017

This year saw multiple transport milestones: from the world’s first electronic freight trucks, to fully solar-powered trains, to landmark decisions to ban the sale of purely diesel and petrol-powered cars across the world.

Could this year mark the point when the transport sector truly charts a course for sustainability? Here are the top five transport stories in 2017.

1. End of the road for petrol and diesel cars

In a move that was heralded as a tipping point for the global automotive industry, China in September said it is working on a plan to end the manufacture and sale of fossil-fuel powered cars. The country, which is the world’s largest car market, did not announce a fixed timeline for this goal.

Other countries which made similar commitments this year include the United Kingdom and France, which plan to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and India, which announced a goal to sell only electric cars by 2030. This was a plan that some saw as ambitious, and others as unviable.

Sweden-based, Chinese-owned industry giant Volvo also announced that it will make only electric and hybrid cars from 2019 onwards, becoming the world’s first major car maker to abandon pure internal combustion engine cars.

2. Dockless debates

Traditional models of bicycle-sharing in cities where users can rent a bike from one location and return it at another station have been around for a while, but 2017 was arguably the year of dockless bicycle sharing.

Chinese companies such as Mobike, Ofo, oBike and ReddyGo expanded exponentially, in China and cities worldwide. Ofo for instance placed 100 bikes on the streets of Oxford, UK, and said it plans to have 20 million bikes on the road across 200 cities by the end of this year. Competitor firm Mobike also launched 1,000 bright orange bikes in Manchester. In Australia, China-backed ReddyGo in June brought “thousands” of bikes to Sydney, while oBike debuted in Melbourne.

Many acknowledge the schemes as an effective means of reducing air pollution and traffic congestion—especially in China’s notoriously smoggy cities—but the rapid proliferation of bike-sharing has created a situation where supply vastly exceeds demand, and users have abused the dockless model to indiscriminately dump bikes in public places.

3. Electric overhaul for freight

The company widely regarded as a leader in electric car innovation unveiled the Tesla Semi Truck in November, opening up the potential to electrify the global freight vehicle market.

Available in models with a range of 300 and 500 miles, the trucks will be available for purchase in 2019. Companies such as package delivery firm UPSUS retail giant Walmart, food firm Pepisco have collectively pre-ordered more than 200 models.

4. Here comes the solar train

Australia’s Byron Bay Railroad Company unveiled the world’s first fully electric, solar-powered train in December. The 100-seater train, which plies a three-kilometre round route in the northern New South Wales district, has a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar panel array on the train roof, and is fitted with a 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery storage system. This is enough storage for between 12 and 15 trips, according to reports.

Brian Flannery, the multimillionaire businessman who funded the solar train, noted that a train plying a longer route would need recharging stations along the way, and added that the technology might be well suited for use in inner city trams.

Meanwhile India, home to Asia’s largest rail network, in July unveiled its first solar powered train. These trains still use diesel to move, but all air conditioning, lighting, and information displays on board are solar powered. Indian Railways estimates that using solar on board the 11,000 trains it operates daily could save the company US$6.31 billion over the next 10 years.

5. Plastic roads

Though not a new technology, the concept of building roads using plastic waste gained mainstream popularity this year. Indonesia, which is among the top five plastic polluting countries in the world, tested out the practice of mixing shredded, melted plastic waste with tar to make more durable, cheaper, and stronger roads this year. The initial test along a 700-metre stretch of road was carried out at a university in Bali, and officials plan to expand the solution to major cities such as Jakarta and Surabaya soon.

Analysts also urged India, where at least 15,000 deaths were caused by potholes in 2016, to make more roads using plastic. Though the Indian government made it mandatory to incorporate waste in highways in 2015, some states have been slow to adopt the practice.

The plastic road movement also caught on the United Kingdom this year, when engineer Toby McCartney and his start-up MacRebur persuaded two English councils to use waste to build their roads in April.

China outlines vision for future transport model

BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — China has outlined its vision of a strong, modern transport network, with “Chinese characteristics.”

At a press conference Tuesday on the development of China’s transport system, Ministry of Transport spokesperson Wu Chungeng spoke of “zero distance,” “zero emissions,” “zero mortality” and “zero inventory.”

Developing transport in China is part of the goals mentioned in a key report delivered at the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress in October, putting it high on the government agenda.

“The transport-strong nation that we are trying to build should have a world-leading transport system, satisfy the demand of its people, and support socialist modernization,” Wu said. “To realize the goal, China should lead the world in terms of transport quality and efficiency, technological innovation, industry governance, and international influence.”

Wu emphasized many key aspects of China’s transport vision, including the importance of the environment, personal safety and being people-focused.

He said the country wanted to build a modern logistics system with “warehouses on the move,” effectively improving efficiency with what he called “zero inventory.”

China’s transport industry has seen rapid development, with 1.28 million km of rural roads built or renovated in the last five years, and over 99 percent of townships and over 98 percent of villages now connected by asphalt or cement roads.

Total road mileage has increased by 534,000 km, railways in operation grew by 27,000 km, and over 7 billion trips have been made on high speed railways from 2012 to 2017.

“By building a global transport supply chain that connects the urban and rural areas in the country and links China with the world, the transportation industry can play an important role in China’s goal to realize socialist modernization,” Wu said.

China is already a world leader in technologies such as high-speed railways. Besides an increasingly intricate domestic high-speed railway network, China is also helping other countries with transport infrastructure construction.

Chinese companies are carrying out more than 20 railway projects overseas, with a total investment of 100 billion yuan (about 15 billion U.S. dollars), China’s railway authorities said in November.

The corporate burden has been reduced significantly in China, with the country cutting logistics costs by more than 88 billion yuan (13.4 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, through measures such as the removal of a number of road tolls and the introduction of streamlined traffic services.

According to Zhang Dawei, a transport ministry official, China plans to cut more logistics costs in 2018 through measures including streamlining charges at ports.

“The country will continue to push supply-side structural reform in the transport realm, improving weak links through reasonable and effective investments,” Zhang said.

In 2018, China plans to build 5,000 km of expressways, build and renovate about 200,000 km of rural roads and increase inland waterways by over 600 km.

Wu said that China intended to pilot a project on green cargo delivery next year, encouraging the use of clean energy-powered trucks and Internet-based information sharing systems.

World’s largest-ever vessel is set to sail in 2018

The world’s largest vessel, Shell’s recently delivered floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessel, was completed after five years of construction at Samsung Heavy Industries’ South Korea shipyard.

The vessel, measuring 1,600 feet in length and displacing as much water as five aircraft carriers, was then towed to Australia, specifically to Shell’s Prelude field, roughly 125 miles north of the Western Australian coast, CNBC reported.

In 2018, the Prelude will begin its job of extracting and processing natural gas at sea, Kallanish Energy learns. The gas will be pumped up from below the seabed to the floating platform, where it is then cooled.

Liquefied natural gas carriers, serving Asian customers, will then pull near the Prelude and fill their massive storage tanks with LNG chilled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite its ship-like appearance, the Prelude is not in the strictest sense a ship as it carries no propulsion power and must be towed to its destinations, according to CNBC.

Its ability to produce and offload gas to large carriers eliminates a need for long pipelines to land-based LNG processing plants. The FLNG technology is also applauded for the ability to be used at various remote locations.

However, the increase in cheap gas primarily because of U.S. shale technology has left some industry watchers questioning the current value of an expensive offshore facility. In 2016, Shell itself decided not to pursue a further three FLNG projects with Samsung, CNBC reported.

Shell says it will produce at least 5.3 million tons per annum (MTPA) of liquids, including 3.6 MTPA of LNG, 1.3 MTPA of condensate and 0.4 MTPA of liquefied petroleum gas.

The ship has a deck longer than four soccer fields and storage tanks that would fill 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to CNBC. Longer than the Empire State Building, Prelude also measures 211 feet — as wide as the wings on a Boeing 747.

Shell has never disclosed how much the vessel will cost, but industry analysts told Reuters its price would range between $10.8 billion and $12.6 billion.
Source: Kallanish Energy

Shanghai port handling capacity breaks record

The annual handling capacity of Shanghai Port surpassed 40 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) on Friday, breaking an existing world record, according to the Shanghai International Port Group.

As one of China’s largest ports, Shanghai Port started container transportation in 1978 with a handling capacity of 7,951 TEUs that year. The port’s throughput exceeded 30 million TEUs in 2011.

In December 2017, Shanghai Yangshan Deep Water Port, the world’s biggest automated container terminal, started trial operations.

The project uses automated handling equipment designed and manufactured in China, as well as a domestically developed automated management system.

It has helped consolidate the port’s standing as the world’s busiest container port and supported Shanghai’s efforts to become a world shipping center.
Source: Xinhua

Trump Blocked a $13 Billion Railway Plan

So much for all that stuff about rebuilding the infrastructure.


The Trump administration blocked an Obama-era agreement with New York and New Jersey that would have seen the federal government funding half of a $13 billion New York City-area Amtrak renewal project. The plan was to have rebuilt a tunnel that brings 600,000 commuters to the city from New Jersey each day.

Crain’s New York Business broke the story after obtaining a letter in which an official declared the deal “nonexistent:”

“Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” wrote FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams. “We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders.”

When Crain’s inquired if that meant DOT regards the 2015 plan as not having standing, a spokesperson replied, simply, “correct.”

Trump is expected to introduce his own infrastructure plan in 2018.

Two weeks ago, after an Amtrak train derailed, injuring 100 people and killing 3 in Washington state, the president tweeted about the importance of infrastructure spending:

The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!

Greek Shipper Bets $1 Billion on Fuel Rule Upending World Trade

Capital Maritime & Trading Corp.

A Greek shipowner is predicting new rules for marine fuel will put thousands of the world’s merchant vessels out of business in the next two years, roiling global trade. In fact, he’s wagering $1.1 billion on it.

Evangelos Marinakis, chairman of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp., based near Athens, says his company has invested that much in the last 18 months to upgrade its 71 ships spanning from oil tankers to container carriers. The rules, designed to clean up vessel emissions, will benefit more modern vessels and contribute to sending many older ones to the scrapyard, Marinakis said.

RELATED: Shipping costs are surging globally

RELATED: Ships carrying 50,000 containers are on horizon, report says

“As much as a quarter of the current fleet could be scrapped,” Marinakis said in an interview in London, where he also has an office. More than 20% of the 95,000-ship global fleet is over 15 years old, too old for additional investments. “This could have an adverse impact on world trade,” added Marinakis, who founded his first shipping company in 1991 at the age of 24.

It’s a bold prediction — one critics say is overblown — but something is clear: the changes are creating expensive complications for owners. As of Jan. 1, 2020, the entire fleet, handling about 90% of global trade, must reduce the amount of sulfur vessels belch into the atmosphere, under rules adopted last year by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency.

The goal is to curb a pollutant, sulfur, that’s been linked to asthma and acid rain, and which is a component of so-called bunkering fuel for vessels. The rules have been nearly a decade in the making.

The shipping industry sees challenges on several fronts, noting that few vessels have been equipped with the scrubbers needed to reduce sulfur pollution and too few refineries churn out enough of the cleaner fuel needed to meet demand.

Teething Issues

“We expect full implementation in 2020 but there may be some teething issues about the availability of the fuel at the port,” Simon Bennett, director of policy and external relations at the International Chamber of Shipping, said in a phone interview. The London-based group represents shipowners and operators controlling thousands of vessels.

Last year, the IMO determined that enough fuel would be available for ships to adjust to the changes by 2020 and agreed to implement the rules by that date. While vessels can switch to lower-sulfur fuel, it would increase demand, and hence the cost of that product. Shippers may even have to pay as much as $60 billion a year on higher-quality fuel to comply, industry consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. predicted earlier this year.

“The cost of moving things will increase as the vessels will be using more expensive fuels, and there will be fewer of them,” Alan Gelder, Wood Mackenzie’s vice-president of refining, chemicals and oil markets, said in a phone interview.

Seaborne Trade

Not everyone in the industry foresees turmoil.

“World trade is probably not being affected directly to any degree, simply because there is little alternative to seaborne trade,” said Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary general of the Baltic International Maritime Council, a Denmark-based owners’ group.

Some trade to remote locations may be affected by higher fuel prices, and there may be indirect effects on commerce if vessels are curbed by large-scale non-compliance with the rules or because compliant fuels aren’t available, Pedersen said.

Still, owners will likely pass along additional costs to consumers or run their vessels more efficiently instead of scrapping them, according to Faig Abbasov, an aviation and shipping officer at Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based group advocating for environmental standards.

“The high costs of fuel did not constrain world trade in any way” a decade ago, before the 2008 financial crisis, Abbasov said. “Why would it do it now?”

Upgrades, New Ships

Fuel oil prices in Rotterdam exceeded $700 a metric ton in mid-2008 and again reached that level in March 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Since then, they’ve declined to about $340 a ton.

Less than a third of the world’s merchant fleet are eligible to be fitted with scrubbers or technologies to meet the sulfur cap by 2020, according to Marinakis. The company’s $1.1 billion modernization plan includes upgrades and new ships, allowing the vessels to be scrubber-ready and also to meet separate rules regarding water-ballast treatment.

“The scrubber is a mature technology onshore, but it’s considered relatively untested in shipping and shipowners are still reluctant to embrace it,” Marinakis said.