BDP Trendwatch: EU may close all European ports to Russian ships; Biden takes on ocean shipping as FMC sees market setting rates; Port Houston reports busiest January in its history

EU may close all European ports to Russian ships*  

European Union countries are considering a ban on Russian ships entering the bloc’s ports, aiming to tighten sea restrictions after a halt on air traffic, European officials say, a step that would further hamper Russia’s commercial shipments. 

Britain already decided on Monday to deny entry to British ports to all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged. 

The Marshall Islands-flagged NS Champion, which is operated by Russian shipping company Sovcomflot, turned away from the UK on Monday after the ban was declared and reported it was heading to Denmark with an oil cargo onboard and expected arrival on March 2, ship tracking data on Eikon showed. 

*at time of publication, information is subject to change.

G captain 

Biden takes on ocean shipping as FMC sees market setting rates  

President Joe Biden is taking on the concentrated market power of ocean shipping companies, although officials at the agency overseeing the industry indicated they lack both the jurisdiction and, for now, any evidence of wrongdoing. 

The White House said Biden will call on Congress at his State of the Union to address the immunity that shipping alliances have from antitrust scrutiny under current law. The Federal Maritime Commission will join with the Department of Justice in a new initiative announced Monday, to push for competition in ocean freight transportation. 

“Many shippers really want us to do something about the rapid inflation of rates and decline in reliability in the ocean freight system,” FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei said Monday at the TPM22 Conference in Long Beach, California. 

AJOT (Bloomberg) 

Port Houston reports busiest January in its history  

Port Houston has achieved its busiest January on record, as it proceeded 323,427 TEU and marked a growth of 27% over the same month of the previous year. 

"Following a busy holiday season, Port Houston expected large numbers of containers to continue into 2022 as importers pushed orders at origin prior to the Lunar New Year when factories in Asia traditionally close down for the holiday period," said Port Houston executive director, Roger Guenther. 

He also noted that the underway projects are adding yard space in the port's container terminals, opening additional gates, widening road access to the port's facilities, while the workforce pipeline is also being developed to handle the business. 

Container News 

Giant cargo jets sidelined by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sidelined a fleet of massive air freighters that oil companies and engineering firms rely on to carry oversize items such as helicopters, power turbines and are even used for spacecraft. 

The Antonov An-124 was once a symbol of cooperation between the two countries—designed in Ukraine and used by Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group for missions ranging from transporting Boeing Co. aircraft parts to providing disaster aid in Puerto Rico. 

Volga-Dnepr’s fleet of 12 An-124s is now hemmed in by sanctions, while others in Ukraine are caught up in the war itself. 


UN bodies unite to reiterate crew change protocols 

Four United Nations’ organizations have called for continued global collaboration to address the crew change crisis. 

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say new challenges and variants of concern like omicron threaten to worsen the plight of the world’s seafarers 

“To maintain recent positive trends, governments and industry, in collaboration with international organizations, need to scale up their common efforts to limit the effects of emerging variants on crew changes while safeguarding the health and wellbeing of seafarers and global communities,” the statement urges. 


Biden bans Russian aircraft in US skies in response to Ukraine 

President Joe Biden is closing U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft, joining most European nations and Canada in response to the invasion of Ukraine, he said in his State of the Union address. 

“Tonight I’m announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding additional squeeze on their economy,” Biden said Tuesday night to bipartisan applause before Congress. 

“He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 


Asian countries cut container trade with Russia amid Ukraine invasion 

Export-import trade between Russia and many countries in Asia has already been halted following Moscow’s last week’s invasion of Kyiv which raised severe concern mainly to exporting nations on the possibility of their significant revenue loss. 

Especially the imposition of various economic and political sanctions on Russia by the western countries further deepened their worries as uncertainty created about getting payment from Russia as the invader’s banks are set to be deterred from the banking system all over the world due to the sanctions. 

Shipping sector officials fear a possible rise in container freight rates in the coming days and weeks as the fuel oil price is rising worldwide following the war. 

Container News