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Cape routings increase despite shipper fury

The number of vessels routed on the bunker-guzzling route which avoids Suez Canal tolls continues to rise.

Container lines have continued routing vessels via the Cape of Good Hope this month despite shippers protesting against the needless burning of fuel.

Taking advantage of lower bunker costs, carriers are steaming around the Cape to avoid Suez Canal tolls that can total around $700,000 for a fully laden 20,000 TEU capacity container ship.

IKEA has led shipper protests, telling Lloyd’s Loading List that it would consider not booking slots with lines that continued to use a route it considers incompatible with its sustainable supply chain efforts.

Even so, and despite Suez Canal toll discounts to discourage diversions from 1 May, as of 26 May a total of 15 ships that departed from Europe and North America in May were still using the Cape route, even though they would have been eligible for the Suez toll discounts.

“This has brought the total number of container ships using the Cape route to 32 since March this year,” said Alphaliner.

“While some of the ships that opted for the longer route are only making ad hoc trips via the Cape, at least four strings appear to have made the Cape route a regular fixture on their eastbound leg to Asia from North Europe and the US East Coast.”

All three major shipping alliances have been using the route.  The services that are currently making regular sailings via the Cape route according to Alphaliner include:

  • The 2M ‘AE-2/Swan’ service (ending soon as service will be temporarily suspended) calling at Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Algeciras, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Qingdao, Busan, Ningbo, Yantian, Tanjung Pelepas, Rotterdam
  • The 2M ’AE-6/Lion’ service calling at Antwerp, Le Havre, Felixstowe, Singapore, Laem Chabang, Nansha, Yantian, Shanghai, USWC
  • The OCEAN Alliance ’AWE-6/PEX3’ service calling at Bayport, Mobile, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, Singapore, Cai Mep, Hong Kong, Shekou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan New Port, Bayport
  • THE Alliance ’EC4’ service calling at New York, Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, New York, Singapore, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Yantian, Cai Mep, Singapore

Source: Alphaliner

A spokesperson for IKEA told Lloyd’s Loading List last week that use of the longer route had “raised concerns of increased greenhouse gas emissions due to the longer sailing distances” and that assurances has been sought from shipping lines about its ongoing use.

Carriers had responded that the route was used temporarily as “a result of closed warehouses and stores in the receiving countries”, an IKEA spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: “We have been in contact with our contracted shipping lines and have got a confirmation that this route was used only for a limited period of time.”

IKEA said it would consider not booking slots with lines that continued to utilise the route in future. “We have an ambitious climate agenda and stringent carbon reduction goals,” said the spokesperson. “From this perspective, it is key is to increase fuel efficiency, replace fossil fuels with alternatives and introduce new technologies.

“We will favour shipping lines that share this direction so that we together can achieve a transition into a climate positive ocean shipping.”

In the IKEA sustainability strategy – People & Planet Positive – the company outlined its goal to become Climate Positive by 2030. “For transports, in IKEA Supply Chain Operations, this goal translates to a 70% average carbon reduction from every transport we do,” said the spokesperson.

“Since ocean shipping is about 40% of the carbon footprint in IKEA Supply Chain Operations, it is a clear focus area for us,” IKEA told Lloyd’s Loading List. “We are in a continuous dialogue with our service providers, including the shipping lines, regarding our Sustainability agenda. Hence there is full transparency about our goals, objectives and priorities on how we plan to become Climate Positive by 2030.”

Source: Lloyds Loading List

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