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REVIEW | 2017-2018


2017-2018: RECOVERY IN SIGHT?


2017 was another tough year for the project cargo community, but we witnessed some green shoots of recovery towards the end of the year, as oil prices stabilised and freight rates increased slightly.


2017 saw companies active in the


movement of project cargoes continue to adapt in order to survive. On the shipping side of the project logistics supply chain, we saw Zeaborn’s acquisition of Rickmers-Linie; Cosco’s takeover of OOCL; Subsea7 taking full control of Seaway Heavy Lifting; the completion of the merger between Wilh. Wilhelmsen and Wallenius Lines; plus that of Hapag-Lloyd with UASC. 2017 also saw Jumbo Maritime agreeing


W


hile the project forwarding and specialised transportation sector had another difficult year, with


mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies aplenty, some commentators suggested that improvement was on the way. Shipping consultancy Drewry kicked off 2017 with a suggestion that improved supply-demand balance and reduced competition from the dry bulk and container sectors could boost multipurpose charter rates, and lead to the first signs of recovery by the end of the year. In the January/February 2017 edition of HLPFI, Susan Oatway, Drewry’s lead analyst for multipurpose shipping, said: “I am


cautiously optimistic, and a lot more positive than I was at the start of 2016.” Those sentiments were largely shared by the industry, although overcapacity lingered on, consolidation continued, and political and economic uncertainties remained. Interestingly, a swathe of mid-year results


indicated that integrated energy majors had adapted to lower oil prices by cutting costs and increasing the efficiency of their operations, with European majors, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, making more cash over the first six months of 2017, with oil prices averaging USD52 per barrel, than they achieved in the corresponding period of 2014, when oil prices surpassed USD100.


an exclusive strategic cooperation with BBC Chartering - the Global Project Alliance. Many were surprised by the announcement that BigRoll Shipping - the joint venture between BigLift and RollDock - would end on January 1, 2018. Another large acquisition in the shipping sector turned heads as Harren & Partner announced that it was acquiring SAL Heavy Lift from “K” Line.


Oligopolisation We witnessed the accelerating trend towards oligopolisation in container shipping, with Drewry predicting that by 2021, the top seven ocean carriers will control approximately three-quarters of the world’s containership fleet, compared with around 27 percent by the same group of lines in 2005. With supply and demand tightening, 2017 saw a rise in freight rates and


January 2017: Donald Trump takes office as President of the USA June 2017: Several countries cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar 86 | HLPFI10


August 2017: Maersk hit by huge cyber attack


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