BPO shares the Baltic experience and discusses market trends at the Global Liner Shipping

May 16 2019

BPO shares the Baltic experience and discusses market trends at the Global Liner Shipping

The Global Liner Shipping conference concluded in Germany. The event held on 13-15 May 2019, in Hamburg, focused on topics such as the future of container shipping, the feeder market, IMO’s upcoming 2020 sulphur cap, CO2 reduction and cyber-security. The Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) was also there in order to share the region’s experience related to the container market in the Baltic, emission reduction compliance and LNG infrastructure development.

One of the event’s spotlights were the global market’s current and emerging container shipping hubs. Baltic ports, as a part of the Baltic container market, characterized by some unique regional features, such as a very dense feeder network, benefit greatly from the development of the global market. The Baltic Sea region (BSR) has a lot to offer, with 2018 characterized by overall growth in the container market in Europe (+5.47%), a record year for the Baltic market (+13.9% in 10 top Baltic container ports) and especially dynamic growth in the Polish ports (+17.3%), which in recent years kept breaking their own records year by year.

The growth of the container market has been accompanied by a growing number of acquisitions. In 2018 alone we witnessed major takeovers, beginning with the acquisition of the Muuga Container Terminal by HHLA, followed by CMA CGM taking over Containerships and ending with DP World purchasing Unifeeder. 2019 began with yet another big takeover – DCT Gdańsk, the fastest growing container port in Europe, was acquired by a trio of investors, including PSA International, the Polish Development Fund and the IFM Global Infrastructure Fund.

Bogdan Ołdakowski, Secretary General, BPO, offered the following comment after the conference:
“It is of great importance for the BPO to be a part of the discussion about market trends and regulatory framework in global container shipping. Naturally, a regional market such as the Baltic container market is a part of its global counterpart, so a deep understanding of global industry trends is absolutely key for the decisions and plans made by the Baltic container ports, as they will directly impact their competitiveness in the years to come.
Furthermore, the Baltic experience from SECA’s introduction in 2015 could be treated as a testing ground for the introduction of the global sulphur cap, so we’re glad to be a part of such a discussion with the shipping industry”. 

Apart from the shifts in market development, global shipping faces a number of impactful changes linked to various environmental regulations coming into force in the near and (as of now) far away future. These include IMO’s global sulphur cap, which will be implemented starting January 1st, 2020, limiting the amount of sulphur in ship fuel, as well as the more distant but equally important regulation on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships by 50% (compared to 2008), set to come into force in 2050.

Both of these regulations apply globally, but stakeholders from some regions, designated as Emission Control Areas (ECAs), already command vast experience when it comes to compliance with and consequences of such initiatives. The Baltic Sea region is one of them, having been designated as a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) in 2005 and Nitrogen Emission Control Area (NECA), starting on January 1st, 2021. Over the years, Baltic stakeholders had the chance to test a wide range of currently debated solutions, such as scrubbers, low sulphur fuels, LNG or cold ironing. It has led to the BSR becoming a benchmark region for introducing new technologies, which can ultimately benefit the global shipping community. Members of the Baltic community are eager to share their experiences, compiled in the reports “Baltic Sea as a model region for green ports and maritime transport” and “EU Sulphur Directive – One year after its entry into force”. The document is available upon contact with the BPO Secretariat.

BSR’s experience with LNG ties into another panel in which the BPO has participated during the event, namely one focusing on lessons on developing the right infrastructure. LNG seems to be gaining increasingly more traction as the current choice for the marine fuel of the future and the BSR shows that a steady and consistent approach to the development of necessary infrastructure can yield benefits down the road.