Shipping and Maritime

G2 Ocean

G2 Ocean Expands Use of e-Bills

This article was written by Keith Wallis, Special Correspondent to JOC and is also available on G2 Ocean's website

June 3, 2020 - G2 Ocean, the Norway-based project cargo and breakbulk operator, is expanding its use of electronic bills of lading (e-bills) amid growing interest from tech-savvy customers, even as rivals are taking a more guarded approach.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is spurring a transition to digitized documents. Work-at-home regimes mean people have limited access to printers, couriers, and customs offices, making it challenging to produce and distribute shipping documents, especially negotiable bills of lading, Jonathan Harcourt, G2 Ocean’s director of innovation, told JOC.com. “These issues are all contributing to the shift to digitization,” he said.

In countries such as India, blanket lockdowns have disrupted courier services and delayed deliveries of crucial documents. Many countries would like to fast-track the use and acceptance of e-bills and letters of credit to circumvent these problems, according to specialized blockchain platform provider CargoX, G2 Ocean’s blockchain partner.  Fracht, a Swiss-based project forwarder, also uses the CargoX platform.

Leif Arne Strømmen, G2 Ocean’s vice president for innovation and project cargo, said the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has accelerated a wider move to digitization that was already under way.

“After CargoX was approved by the P&I clubs, and also as a result of COVID-19, we have seen an increased number of requests from customers who want to learn more about the blockchain based e-bill and how they potentially can implement this in order to digitalize the bill of lading process,” Strømmen told JOC.com.

G2 Ocean is currently only using the digitized bills of lading on a trial basis and in select trades, including those connecting Asia with South America, Europe, and Australia. “We have gradually extended e-bills to cover new trade lanes and destinations after going live with the first customer in a pilot trial in the second quarter of 2019,” Harcourt said. The trial involved G2 Ocean customer Manuchar, a Dutch trading and distribution company, whose trading activities include steel, metals, paper, and wood.

“The platform gives customers full visibility over who has the original e-bill in their custody at all times. Other benefits include the elimination of courier-related expenses for paper documents and the speed it takes to distribute digital documents between those involved in the supply chain,” Strømmen said. The digital exchange of documents between Norway and Singapore takes just minutes, compared with several days to courier the paper equivalents, he said.

On the platform

Vjeran Ortynski, chief business development officer at CargoX, told JOC.com the company’s e-bill platform has about 3,000 registered users, including shipping lines, freight forwarders, and shippers.

“The feedback we are getting is that shipping lines would love to digitize but, given the state of the global economy due to the virus pandemic, just staying alive is their number one priority. But the industry does have to look at different ways of doing things,” Ortynski said.

CargoX is developing a proof of concept for the Indian government, he said. In India, strict lockdown conditions — now beginning to ease — have strangled the traditional bill of lading (BOL) procedure, where paper BOLs, invoices, payments and delivery orders all have to be handled in person. The lockdown created bottlenecks, clogged India’s largest ports with cargo, and led India’s shipping ministry to urge the commerce ministry to fast-track digital solutions, he said.

Ruedi Reisdorf, Fracht’s chief executive officer, told JOC.com that CargoX was the best solution they’ve found for bills of lading on blockchain. “The benefits are huge — no bill of lading can ever go missing, the transfer can be made within minutes, it is always known who currently has the B/L [bill of lading], and you save three-to-six times the courier costs,” Reisdorf said. He supports CargoX’s open platform because, while it can also be used by competitors, “with proprietary systems you are bound to one carrier and it dictates the terms,” he said.

However, patchy adoption of technology and standards for the use of e-bills across the supply chain are impediments to their adoption. While customs authorities have been largely enthusiastic supporters, banks are more conservative in their approach, G2 Ocean’s Strømmen said.

“While we see more interest in e-bills from our customers, it is still time consuming to implement due to the large number of parties involved in the supply chain,” he said. “These include customers of our customer, banks, customs agents, terminal operators, ship agents, etc., who are all used to an original paper-based bill of lading in their hands with a lot of ink-based stamps and signatures. It takes a lot of time and effort to explain to these same parties the meaning of ‘an original digital bill of lading,’ and the fact that this document is much safer than any original paper bill of lading that today can be faked without any problem.”

As a result of these issues, while Fracht’s Reisdorf said digitized bills work well, he estimates that only 50 to 100 trial shipments have been made around the world using them.

Strømmen said he expected it to take between five and 10 years for digitized bills of lading to take over from traditional paper bills. “I think it will be a slow birth, but then we will see exponential growth in e-bills,” he said.

VP Project Cargo Leif Arne Strømmen and Director of Innovation Jonathan Harcourt.

Is demand there?

Singapore-headquartered multipurpose/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) ship operator AAL is among those that have looked at digitized bills of lading, but see little customer demand.

Frank Mueller, general manager of AAL Australia, told JOC.com the carrier has explored various providers of e-bill technology but has not seen sufficient demand from customers to justify the time or resources needed for implementation.

“We do not necessarily see any technical advantages, except that in theory e-bills are a lot faster than posting original bills and having the paper bills move through letter-of-credit processes,” he said. This might be important when a very fast transit time is required or when ownership of a shipment transfers multiple times, but this is generally not the case for project and heavy lift cargoes.

Mueller acknowledged the environmental benefits of using less paper, but said AAL is currently reducing its paper waste by printing fewer copies of their bills of lading.

“Obviously there is the environmental impact of switching from paper documents to electronic exchanges, but at this stage we are reducing our paper trail by issuing fewer originals and copies — not the traditional three originals and five copies — as well as offering customers the ability to surrender their bills and have the goods telex-released,” he said. “We are rarely dealing with instances where the original bill is either lost or delayed, and though this could be most likely avoided altogether when using e-bills, so far the demand is not there.”

Other project cargo and heavy lift operators, including BigLift, Spliethoff, and European short-sea carrier UECC, said they are not using e-bills and have not planned any trials.

About G2 Ocean

G2 Ocean is a joint venture of two of the world’s leading breakbulk and bulk shipping companies: Gearbulk and Grieg Star. The company operates the largest fleet of open hatch vessels worldwide, in addition to a substantial fleet of conventional bulk carriers. For further information, visit: www.g2ocean.com

SOURCE: G2 Ocean

 

MV Singan

Swire Bulk takes Delivery of New, Log-fitted Bulk Carrier, MV Singan

May 28, 2020 - Swire Bulk, the bulk division of The China Navigation Company, has taken delivery of its new, log-fitted bulk carrier into service. MV Singan is traded worldwide with a strong focus on the logs trade in the Pacific and South Atlantic.

The vessel was named in February 2020 by lady sponsor, Mrs Kaori Imoto, the wife of John Swire & Sons Board Director, Jonathan Swire. The ceremony was held at The Hakodate Dock Co., Ltd.’s shipyard in Hakodate, Japan.

MV Singan embarked on her maiden voyage at the end of April for Busan.

According to Rob Aarvold, General Manager at Swire Bulk, the vessel is designed for optimal speed and consumption at 12.5 knots in the laden condition. The eco-efficiency additions of the Rudder Bulb, Wake fin and Pre-swirl will improve vessel hull efficiency. 

Log carriage requires a high level of structural stability, which MV Singan offers. The vessel is also installed with the latest solid state radar equipment which is integrated with ECDIS. This ensures compliance with the latest and future requirements and for system updates to be managed easily.

“Swire Bulk’s newbuilding programme will enable us to strategically deliver the largest and most eco-friendly fleet trading in the market,” Aarvold said. “We remain committed to delivering market-leading, innovative and sustainable shipping solutions to our customers with our modern eco-designed vessels.”

MV Sungkiang, MV Singan’s sister vessel, is being built at the same shipyard scheduled for delivery in June 2020.

“Having these log-fitted new buildings on water would strengthen Swire Bulk’s position in the log market. We are one of the world’s largest handy-size logger fleets, and we have the flexibility, supply and consistent technical standards to perform and deliver freight contracts safely, reliably and professionally,” Aarvold added.

About Swire Bulk

Established in 2012 as the dry bulk trading division of The China Navigation Company (CNCo), Swire Bulk operates a modern fuel-efficient fleet comprising owned, long term and short term-chartered tonnage. With a fleet size of over 150 Handysize and Supra/Ultramax/Panamax vessels and eight offices around the world, Swire Bulk is well-positioned to serve customers globally, providing them with cost-effective solutions while offering greater flexibility.

SOURCE: Swire Bulk

 

CMA CGM Group

CMA CGM Group Secures EUR 1.05 Billion Loan Backed by French Government

May 13, 2020 - The CMA CGM Group [on May 12] announced that it has secured a EUR 1.05 billion syndicated loan from a consortium of three banks: BNP Paribas, HSBC and Société Générale. This loan is part of France's State-guaranteed loan scheme established at the end of March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State guarantees 70% of the loan, which has an initial one-year maturity and an extension option for up to five additional years. This new funding further strengthens CMA CGM’s cash position in order to confront uncertainties in the global economy resulting from the health crisis and lockdown measures in a large number of countries. At this stage, the Group anticipates a limited slowdown in its activity over the near term, with an estimated decrease in market volumes of 10% in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

As soon as the first wave of the epidemic hit China, the Group implemented several measures, including:

  • Protecting the health and ensuring the safety of its employees, both on land and at sea;
  • Reorganizing and adjusting maritime services to the needs of its customers;
  • Stepping up the cost reduction program for both maritime operations (ports and vessels) and logistics operations (adapting warehouse activities).

In addition, the CMA CGM Group is using its expertise to transport essential goods, particularly medical and pharmaceutical products, thereby helping to combat the health crisis in France and around the world.

“I would like to thank the French authorities for having introduced this scheme so effectively and quickly,” said Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group. “This loan also shows the confidence our banking partners have in the CMA CGM Group's business model and strategy.

“In the context of this unprecedented crisis, controlling the supply chain has become crucial. Thanks to our expertise, commitment and agility, we have transported several hundred million masks and medical supplies that are essential in responding to the health emergency.

“Looking ahead, we will apply this same know-how to support the recovery of the French and global economy. The current crisis supports our view that globalization should be rethought, based on more balanced and more environmentally friendly forms of trade,” Saadé concluded.

SOURCE: CMA CGM Group

 

Alexander Global Logistics - wood pulp

Alexander Maritime Services Charters Two Breakbulk Vessels to the Middle East

May 11, 2020 (Press Release) - Alexander Maritime Services (AMS), a sister company of Alexander Global Logistics (AGL), has successfully performed two breakbulk charters from the Port of Flushing in the Netherlands, to the ports of Aqaba and Bahrain in the Middle East.

AMS is certainly not shy when it comes to chartering. On a regular monthly basis, they charter 8-10 coaster loaded with wood pulp and other bulk cargos within the European waters. This time, these two charters came on top due to the lack of container space and equipment on this route caused by the COVID-19 situation. The cargo originated from South America, and was available in Flushing for immediate shipment to guarantee production of hygienic material in the Middle East. Thanks to the AMS team, the goods should arrive in time to be put into the production process.

In addition to the above routes, AMS is organizing on a regular basis breakbulk wood pulp shipments from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. Main other discharging ports in the Middle East are Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Jeddah. As we write this article, the team is busy working on yet another charter for wood pulp from Northern Europe to China.

SOURCE: Alexander Global Logistics GmbH

 

SCA Charters Two Large Container Vessels

May 4, 2020 (Press Release) - On April 22, 2020, SCA takes two bigger container vessels on charter. The vessels have considerably larger cargo capacity than their predecessors. They are today named m/v Baltic Shearwater and m/v Baltic Petrel.

“We at SCA Logistics have a strategy to develop large-scale solutions that make us even more cost-effective in the long term. With the new vessels, the goal is to load 40 percent more container cargo. By large-scale, the vessels also contribute to a lower climate impact while at the same time strengthening our customers' competitiveness,” says Nils Johan Haraldsson, Vice President Marketing and Business Development at SCA Logistics.

To enlarge the container traffic is also part of the ongoing efforts of expansion and development of the ports in Sundsvall and Umeå.

“In both cities, the port developments will bring increased opportunities for container traffic. The trend with bigger container volumes is also evident, not least in our own ports where container volumes are steadily increasing and have been doing so for many years,” continues Nils Johan.

Southbound, the cargo is dominated by export products from the forest industry, to a large extent our own goods from SCA, but also from other pulp, paper and sawmill industries. There is also cargo from other basic industry and mechanical companies. Northwards the freights are containers with mostly consumer goods and intermediate products, which are shipped to the industries.

“It is important that we can build larger and more stable volumes from Umeå and Sundsvall, that strengthens also the competitiveness of our customers in a global market," says Nils Johan.

Initially, the new vessels will run according to the current route Umeå-Sundsvall-Oxelösund-Rotterdam. After an initial period, the plan is to transport the vessels into a shipyard for repainting. It may then also be relevant to rename them so that the vessels receive SCA names.

About SCA's new vessels and fleet

After four successful years, the new container vessels replace m/v SCA Tunadal and m/v SCA Munksund, which have also been chartered. The theoretical capacity of the new vessels is 1638 TEU nom1. It can be compared with the two previous vessels which had a capacity of 1018 TEU nom. With heavy products from the forest industry, however, the number of containers falls to some extent. The larger vessels are more fuel efficient and reduce carbon dioxide emissions per shipped container. In addition to the new container vessels, SCA's fleet consists of our own three RoRo vessels m/s SCA Obbola, m/s SCA Ortviken and m/s SCA Östrand.

1 TEU = A load gauge for a container vessel that refers to the space of a 20-foot container.

SOURCE: SCA

 
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