ANL is to introduce ships of around 8500 TEU into Australia in order to enhance “economies of scale” in an expensive fuel market.
ANL general manager global and strategic accounts, Tom Holyman, told the Tasmanian Freight & Logistics Forum the move was underway.
“We are able to officially announce… that we will be bringing this size [8500 TEU] vessel to Australia from next month – capesize and potentially slightly larger,” he said.
The ships are expected to be under charter from OOCL.
Mr Holyman said for many years Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge had been a constraint.
“There has been a natural cap on the supply side… because ships of around 6500 TEU physically can’t get under the Westgate Bridge and even if they can there’s a turning issue.”
But the establishment of VICT meant bigger ships could access Webb Dock, Mr Holyman said, while the Port of Melbourne had indicated “nine thousands” (9000 TEU) could go under the Bridge under certain conditions, potentially allowing access to the river terminals (although there still would be the turning challenge).
“Bigger ships make economic sense,” he said, noting higher fuel bunkering costs making economies of scale all the more important.
International calls at Tasmania
Mr Holyman famously used the corresponding event last year to describe the number of shipping services into Tasmania as “unsustainable” and felt vindicated when Maersk cancelled its direct call.
He told the gathering this year that ANL would not be introducing a direct call to the Tasmania and this would not change even with if a mooted Burnie container terminal became reality.
“We won’t be bringing any direct services, not that there’s any [ANL] ships that are capable of getting into the ports in Tasmania,” he said.
“I don’t believe the DP World terminal in Burnie will be built and even if it was it won’t change our position.”
Mr Holyman also raised the alarm about fuel, indicating the oil companies had not even confirmed if they were ready or willing to produce the sulphur-reduced energy sources.
He said the alternatives to sulphur-based fuels were diesel (“horrifically expensive”), liquefied natural gas or the installation of so-called ‘sulphur scrubbers’.
“That would meaning fitting a scrubber to every single ship in the world, around about $6bn [globally].”
Even if oil companies could produce the sulphur-reduced fuel, Mr Holyman said it was uncertain if it would be available in places like Melbourne or New Zealand for the Tasman trades.
“So we’ve got a real issue coming towards us. The industry is only now trying to scramble and raise awareness. Because according to one shipowner, it will wipe the shipping industry out if nothing is done.”
The Tasmanian Freight and Logistics Forum was organised by the Tasmanian Logistics Committee, the Freight and Trade Alliance and Australian Peak Shippers and was held at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.