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There will be diesel reaction to IMO 2020, but it’s mostly muted: JP Morgan

A recent report by JPMorgan Chase sees a diesel market reaction coming as a result of IMO 2020, but its tone and forecast are restrained and hint at a market that is on the verge of any sort of spike in prices. In an exhaustive 100-plus-page report published by the team led by analyst Phil …

A recent report by JPMorgan Chase sees a diesel market reaction coming as a result of IMO 2020, but its tone and forecast are restrained and hint at a market that is on the verge of any sort of spike in prices.

In an exhaustive 100-plus-page report published by the team led by analyst Phil Gresh, the focus is often on the equity price of U.S. refiners like Delek (NYSE: DK) and Marathon Petroleum (SONAR: STOCK.MPC). The current equity price of those companies, the report said, has “a fair amount of the IMO 2020 upside potential (that) now feels priced in,” sitting at more normal levels of price-to-equity ratio and free cash flow yield. Marathon Petroleum is up more than 32% since its 52-week low in August, and Delek is up approximately 16.5% in the last 12 months. 

The range of forecasts in the industry on the demand impact of IMO 2020 on diesel demand is a large one. There have been estimates of as much as 2.5 million barrels/day of distillate demand needed to displace the high-sulfur fuel oil that no longer will be used as ships seek to stay compliant with the 0.5% sulfur restriction of IMO 2020, down from 3.5%. 

JPMorgan’s estimate is a more conservative 1.8 million b/d. But it also says that there could be a “one-time step-up” increase of 2 million b/d next year during the transition.

The report is mostly optimistic about the refining industry’s preparation for the IMO 2020 transition. Among existing refineries, the report said, distillate yield (which includes diesel) in 2019 was probably a record level of 30.1%, meaning distillate output was that percentage of total output. “Looking toward 2020, we see the diesel yield creeping even higher, averaging 30.4%,” the report said.

It also projected that gasoline yields will decline about the same 300 basis points. The swing between gasoline and diesel in refineries as the industry prepared for IMO 2020 is a complicated one. It hinges in part on the use of a product called vacuum gasoil (VGO), which can be sent to a cat cracker to make gasoline or to a hydrocracker to make diesel. But it can also be blended to make another IMO 2020-compliant produced called very-low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO). JPMorgan’s forecast of an average yield in 2020 between diesel and gasoline doesn’t reflect the fact that over the course of the year, there will be significant swings of VGO going into diesel production or gasoline production depending upon the relative economics of the two products.

Overall, the impact on refiners from IMO 2020 is expected to be a positive for the industry, the report said. But the numbers projected in the short term are small enough that they signal only minor increases at the pump as a result of the new rule. For example, the report says that JPMorgan sees a $2/b “uplift” in the diesel crack because of IMO 2020. The crack is the spread between the price of crude and the price of the product. At 42 gallons to a barrel, that works out to a little less than 5 cts/gallon. For a refiner to get a long-term boost in its refining margins of $2/b, the impact of IMO 2020 would be considered significant. Translating it into the pump price of diesel is not.

On other issues, the report was mixed on the short-term future of crude-by-rail. The key margin incentivizing crude-by-rail is the spread between Brent and WTI. The physical spread between the two of them is currently about $7/b (as opposed to the spread for paper contracts, which is closer to $5). The report sees the Brent/WTI spread moving to a $5 level, with slower growth in U.S. production and more pipeline capacity going to the U.S. Gulf slowing the buildup in the middle of the country that drives the spread wider. Any narrowing of the spread is considered bearish for crude-by-rail.

But the forecast for crude by rail in Canada is better, according to JPMorgan. It used the phrase “rail over curtail” to describe the Alberta government’s permission to allow now-constrained production to be increased if it’s moved out of the province by rail. “We think that more barrels could move via rail as (Canadian) producers look to the positive net-back impact of additional volumes,” the report said. 

Source: There will be diesel reaction to IMO 2020, but it’s mostly muted: JP Morgan

Major snowstorm continues to slam western US (with forecast video)

Satellite animation of storm over the western U.S.Snow, blizzard conditions not letting up across mountains of western U.S. Icy weather possible in the South.
Satellite animation of storm over the western U.S.

Periods of heavy mountain snowfall will continue to slow down drivers today, Dec. 12, through tomorrow in the high elevations of the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West. More specifically, roads will be most treacherous in the Cascades of Washington state and Oregon, the Olympics of Washington state, the Rockies of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, and the Wasatch in Utah. FreightWaves has been reporting on this all week. The forecast hasn’t changed much since yesterday, except to add Colorado and California to the list of states in the storm’s crosshairs.

SONAR Critical Events: Thursday, December 12, 2019, 10:00 a.m. EST. Target areas of Mountain West, Pacific Northwest snowstorms highlighted.

Totals exceeding 24 inches are likely in several of the tallest peaks, with many other areas seeing 12 to 24 inches. Some of the target routes include, but are not limited to, Stevens Pass (US-2), Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) and White Pass (US-12) in Washington state; Lookout Pass (I-90) on the Idaho-Montana border; Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel (I-70) west of Denver; Dobson Pass in Idaho; and McKenzie and Santiam passes in Oregon. Other trouble spots will be Yellowstone and Mount St. Helens national parks. Blowing snow will create occasional whiteout conditions and potential roadblocks. Besides dangerous road conditions making travel risky for everyone, deadheading is a gamble due to the very gusty winds.

The storm should taper tomorrow, Dec. 13, except in the Rockies, where it will linger into Saturday, Dec. 14. Also, heavy snowfall will develop in the Sierra Nevada of eastern California tomorrow night into Saturday.

Shippers may experience delays of air cargo to and from Denver International Airport (ICAO code: DEN), Great Falls International Airport (ICAO code: GTF) and Salt Lake City International Airport (ICAO code: SLC). Customers should also expect delays of any freight on Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and BNSF (NYSE: BRK.A) railroads through the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West regions.

Other areas of snowfall today, Dec. 12

Look for more snowfall from Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan and northern lower Michigan thanks to a low-pressure system. Delays are likely on I-41, I-43 and I-75. The highest accumulations of 5 to 8 inches will pile up in far northeastern Wisconsin and southern portions of Michigan’s UP. This storm should fade later today and this evening, except for some lingering lake effect snowfall in downwind locations. Another batch of potentially heavy snowfall could return to the region tomorrow.

Additional notes

Freezing rain and icy conditions will develop overnight into Friday, Dec. 13, in the southern and central Appalachians. This will affect the I-40, I-64 and I-85 corridors from western North Carolina to southern Virginia and eastern West Virginia. This includes Asheville, Boone, Winston-Salem and the western and northern Charlotte suburbs in North Carolina; Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia; and Beckley, West Virginia. Two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulations in the mountains will make roads extremely hazardous and could weigh down utility lines, leading to power outages and roadblocks.

SONAR Critical Events: Thursday, December 12, 2019, 10:00 a.m. EST. Areas shaded in green are at risk for icy conditions.

Because of extremely gusty winds and a high risk of blowovers, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has been closing portions of I-80 and I-25 to light, high-profile vehicles in the southeastern part of the state. Gusts from the west will reach 60 mph or stronger today and tomorrow.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!

Source: Major snowstorm continues to slam western US (with forecast video)

California’s AB 5 will impact trucking companies and shippers

Assembly Bill 5 limits companies from classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees to save operational expenses.

Ever since California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) in September, there has been heated debate around changes to the gig economy. AB 5 lays out stricter regulations for the way companies classify their independent contractors, who lawmakers said were often exploited.  

The gig economy was made famous by the advent of Uber, but U.S. companies long have brought on truck drivers to work as independent contractors without such employee benefits as sick leave or paid vacation. 

On-demand cab-hailing and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have registered their opposition to the bill, pledging to spend $30 million each on a 2020 ballot initiative to reverse AB 5. The law is set to take effect Jan. 1. 

FreightWaves caught up with Erik Malin, the vice president of operations at Loadsmart, a digital freight marketplace, to discuss the impact of AB 5 on the California freight industry. 

“This legal move will lower the threshold for what is the dividing line between an independent contractor and an employee,” said Malin. “When it lowers that threshold, it effectively lets more independent contractors fall under the employee status. The impact has to do with associated costs. On one side, you have truck drivers who will make more money, but on the other side, it increases the cost for carriers.”

Malin explained that although it looks good from the truck driver’s perspective, AB 5 might not have a positive impact from the industry’s financial standpoint. Hauling costs are expected to increase, and that cost would be passed along to shippers.

But Malin pointed out that inefficiency in the system was a primary driver of AB 5.

“Drivers are sitting in their trucks for extended periods of time, like at ports, waiting for a container to arrive so that they can move it from the port to a nearby warehouse. But they are not properly compensated for their dwell times, which means that there is additional pressure for them to be compensated more for the hours they spend driving, which is again part of increasing that cost,” he said.

This negative macroeconomic impact on carriers will decrease their income and operating profit, which leads to shrinking resources for them to invest in operations. This includes a shortage of funds to invest in technology that goes into upgrading their trucks, driver recruitment and their subsequent training. Malin contended that this also could have an impact on capacity in the short run and a potential long-term impact on the end consumer. 

Malin suggested that stakeholders on both ends of the spectrum look to resolve the issue amicably to prevent major disruption within the industry. “I think there should be a focus on why all these issues occur and what needs to be done to solve them in addition to whatever legal resolutions need to be put in place,” he said. 

“A good example is the ELD regulation that, when mandated, reduced the number of miles that drivers could cover in a day. This tightened capacities and had an impact on hauling costs at a macroeconomic level.”

Source: California’s AB 5 will impact trucking companies and shippers

FMCSA extends drug clearinghouse deadline for state agencies

Delay to provide more time to develop proper IT platform.

Federal regulators made final a proposed rule delaying the compliance deadline for the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse by three years for state motor vehicle agencies.

Instead of being required to access the new database on Jan. 6, 2020, state agencies will have until Jan. 6, 2023, to comply with the rule to give states more time ensure IT systems can securely tap into the system, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The 2020 deadline remains in effect for drivers and carriers.

“The compliance date extension allows FMCSA the time needed to complete its work on a forthcoming rulemaking to address the states’ use of driver-specific information from the clearinghouse and time to develop the information technology platform through which states will electronically request and receive clearinghouse information,” the agency noted in a Dec. 12 document.

While the FMCSA asserted that the delay would have no effect on safety, industry experts and safety advocates have warned of potential risks to a delay of the rule’s requirements for state agencies.

The clearinghouse final rule requires that employers query its database as part of any pre-employment driver investigation, a procedure meant to prevent drivers from moving from one job to another with undetected drug or alcohol violations. The queries will also be required at least annually by fleet operators for all their current drivers. All queries require driver consent.

The three-year extension came at the request of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), which raised five major questions:

  • What does FMCSA intend that the states do with information they receive from the clearinghouse?
  • What specific information would states receive in response to a request for information about an individual commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder or applicant?
  • What privacy and data controls will be applied to the transmission of clearinghouse information to SDLA’s [state driver’s license agencies]?
  • How would an erroneous clearinghouse record be corrected?
  • What are the cost implications for the SDLAs?

The FMCSA said it will address AAMVA’s concerns in “Clearinghouse II,” a proposed rule it is currently developing. “Delaying the implementation of the states’ query requirement will provide FMCSA time to resolve AAMVA’s concerns and ensure a seamless implementation of the states’ clearinghouse-related requirements,” the agency noted.

In announcing the deadline extension, the FMCSA also clarified that the clearinghouse final rule requires only that states conduct a query prior to the issuance, renewal, transfer or upgrade of a CDL and that commercial learner’s permit holders were not part of that requirement. 

“While the question of whether the states’ query requirement should be extended to include CLPs, as suggested by the Oregon DOT, is outside the scope of this rule. That issue will be addressed in the Clearinghouse II,” the agency confirmed.

Source: FMCSA extends drug clearinghouse deadline for state agencies

Today’s Pickup: Saudi Arabia’s Aramco becomes world’s most valuable publicly-traded company

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco becomes world’s most valuable publicly traded company (Photo: Aramco)Aramco crosses $2 trillion valuation; German economy looks vulnerable than ever; Autoworkers vote for a new contract at Fiat Chrysler.
Saudi Arabia’s Aramco becomes world’s most valuable publicly traded company (Photo: Aramco)

Good day,

Amid skepticism on the market value of Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco, the oil giant’s stock market debut on Dec. 11 was nothing short of spectacular, soaring to its 10% daily limit — a figure fixed by the controls governing first-day trading at the Saudi stock exchange. The stocks opened at $9.39, which was the ceiling it could hit on day one, as the initial public offering (IPO) came at the price of $8.53 per share. 

The stock value rallied again on the second day to put the company’s market value at over $2 trillion before losing some of its gains to hover just below the mark. However, Aramco has comfortably eclipsed the second-place company Apple in market valuation and is higher than the next top five oil companies put together — ExxonMobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP. 

Did you know?

Solar and wind energy account for 7% of the world’s energy generation, a 100% increase from 2013. The International Energy Agency forecasts this figure to hit 35% by 2040. 


“CEOs are justified in their caution about the state of the U.S. economy. While we have achieved a competitive tax environment, uncertainty surrounding trade policy and slowing global growth are creating headwinds for business. Lawmakers should expand, not restrict, trade to help boost U.S. economic potential.”

— Joshua Bolten, president of the Business Roundtable, while commenting on the concerns with regard to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. 

In other news

UK’s post-Brexit trade at risk as WTO’s top court shuts down

The court’s shutdown will leave the U.K. at the mercy of the EU in its trading relationship after the transition period. (The Guardian)

Chevron’s $11 billion write-down is a warning for the oil industry

This is a bad sign for the oil and gas industry, due to a combination of supply surpluses, low prices, the struggling business case for large-scale shale drilling and the looming threat of peak demand. (Oilprice)

Volkswagen parent acquires stake in self-driving startup

Porsche SE invests in Aeva, capping a year of autonomous sector moves. (WSJ)

German economists’ prediction for 2020: ‘It’s going to be a difficult year’ 

Though there isn’t a lot of optimism for 2020, economists believe unemployment rates will only rise slightly and consumers will continue to have strong purchasing power. (The Local)

Shipping industry sails into unknown with new pollution rules

Faced with imminent new global marine pollution rules, shipping companies and insurers are puzzling over the risks. (Reuters)

Final thoughts

Autoworkers have voted for a new four-year contract at Fiat Chrysler, which will prevent a strike the likes of the one that recently paralyzed General Motors for six weeks. The deal, which was approved by 71% of Fiat Chrysler workers, will provide more than 47,000 workers represented by the United Auto Workers Union a $9,000 signing bonus before the Christmas holiday. Members of the union will also get a 6% raise in wages over the contract’s length and two lump-sum settlements equal to 4% of their annual salaries. On average, this amounts to about $29,500 per worker over the four-year contract period. 

Hammer down, everyone!

Source: Today’s Pickup: Saudi Arabia’s Aramco becomes world’s most valuable publicly-traded company

FreightWaves / [FW]IMO 2020 Regulation Preparation
« on: December 13, 2019, 07:01:53 PM »
IMO 2020 Regulation Preparation

Source: IMO 2020 Regulation Preparation

Partner Content: How Trucker Tools Helps Brokers Increase Micro-Carrier Volume and Efficiency

Source: Partner Content: How Trucker Tools Helps Brokers Increase Micro-Carrier Volume and Efficiency

US sanctions snare more air, ocean transport operators linked to Iran

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control warns U.S. companies to exercise due diligence against entanglements with sanctioned transportation services providers.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) continues to add air and marine cargo services providers to its list of sanctioned individuals and entities that conduct business with Iran.

On Dec. 11, OFAC placed three foreign air cargo general sales agents and a vessel operator on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List for their alleged dealings with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards. U.S. business transactions are prohibited with individuals or entities identified on the list.

“The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement.

OFAC identified aviation general sales agents — Gatewick LLC and Jahan Destination Travel and Tourism LLC of Dubai and Gomei Air Services Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong — as providers of passenger and cargo handling services to Iran’s Mahan Air. The Iranian airline has been on the SDN List since October 2011 for supporting Iranian military operations in the region.

“Since the onset of the Syrian civil war, Mahan Air has routinely flown fighters and materiel to Syria to prop up the Assad regime, which has contributed to mass atrocities and displacement of civilians,” the agency said.

OFAC also added Iranian businessman Abdolhossein Khedri and his shipping companies, Khedri Jahan Darya Co. and Maritime Silk Road LLC, as well as vessels owned by Khedri Jahan Darya Co., to the SDN List for their support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s smuggling operations. The identified vessels include the Genava 11 and Genava 12.

The Trump administration has escalated sanctions against Iran since the United States’ withdrawal from the multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, in May 2018.

Numerous Iranian companies and individuals, including nearly 200 ships, have been added to the SDN List for violating U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, as well as for U.S. national security and foreign policy concerns.

“Aviation and shipping industries should be vigilant and not allow their industries to be exploited by terrorists,” Mnuchin warned.

Source: US sanctions snare more air, ocean transport operators linked to Iran

FreightWaves / [FW]Refraction launches robotic lunch delivery in Ann Arbor
« on: December 13, 2019, 07:01:53 PM »
Refraction launches robotic lunch delivery in Ann Arbor

food delivery robotLess than six months after Refraction came out of stealth mode, the robotics startup  is launching its first food delivery service, for residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan, according to a statement released on Dec. 12. Customers within the 2.5-mile delivery zone can now place lunchtime orders from local restaurants for delivery via Refraction’s  REV-1 robot. …
food delivery robot

Less than six months after Refraction came out of stealth mode, the robotics startup  is launching its first food delivery service, for residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan, according to a statement released on Dec. 12.

Customers within the 2.5-mile delivery zone can now place lunchtime orders from local restaurants for delivery via Refraction’s  REV-1 robot.

The delivery zone includes the University of Michigan, potentially setting up a clash with another autonomous food delivery company, Starship Technologies.

Starship robots are already making active deliveries on several university campuses. The company plans to roll out services to 100 campuses over the next two years, with the latest rollout, in November, occurring on the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus.

Starship did not immediately return a request for comment.

Founded by roboticists and professors at the University of Michigan, Refraction touts what it refers to as the “Goldilocks” edge — an autonomous robotic platform sized to operate in both the bike lane and roadway.

Comparable to an electric bike, the robot is 5 feet tall, 4.5 feet long and 30 inches wide. It weighs approximately 100 pounds and can reach a speed of 15 mph. The inside of the vehicle holds 16 cubic feet, or four to five food delivery bags.

Customers in Ann Arbor who sign onto the new service receive a confirmation of their order with a unique code and delivery updates throughout. When the REV-1 arrives outside the destination, the customer get a notification to meet the robot at the curb.

Participating restaurants pay a 15-20% cut to Refraction, less than the 30% typically charged by UberEats and Postmates.

Co-founder Matt Johnson-Roberson said in the release that Refraction, backed by eLab Ventures and Trucks Venture Capital, plans to roll out the service to other cities but did not specify a timeline.

Source: Refraction launches robotic lunch delivery in Ann Arbor

Celadon’s closure an opportunity for other companies in turbulent times

Celadon Group’s (OTC: CGIP) shutdown comes after cross-border shipping had already lost several other full truckload (TL) carriers this year that provided Mexico service. Matt Silver, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Forager, said Celadon’s closure will affect freight capacity in both the U.S. and Mexico. “Celadon is one of the largest cross-border providers in North …

Celadon Group’s (OTC: CGIP) shutdown comes after cross-border shipping had already lost several other full truckload (TL) carriers this year that provided Mexico service.

Matt Silver, founder and CEO of Chicago-based Forager, said Celadon’s closure will affect freight capacity in both the U.S. and Mexico.

“Celadon is one of the largest cross-border providers in North America, so when you have a shutdown of that scale, everyone on both sides of the border is going to feel it,” Silver said. “Celadon’s shutdown is starting a major chain reaction in freight, one we’ve just begun to feel. This is the calm before the storm. Right now, it’s drivers and employees who are suffering. Soon that will trickle down to shippers, then to the public at large.”

Celadon, which declared bankruptcy Dec. 9, was one of the largest north-south TL carriers, with a fleet of around 2,700 trucks. The company was a dominant carrier on the Interstate 35 corridor, running freight from Laredo, Texas, to the Midwest, with a large concentration in the automotive sector.

Covenant Transportation Group Inc. and U.S. Xpress Enterprises also exited the U.S.-Mexico cross-border market this year. 

Troy Ryley, president of Redwood Mexico at Redwood Logistics, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider based in Chicago, said Celadon’s closing could provide opportunities for another major carrier.

With more than 2,300 trucks, CFI is now the largest remaining TL cross-border operation, followed by P.A.M. Transportation Services with 1,557 trucks. Schneider National and Werner Enterprises are other TL carriers with cross-border operations, and Landstar System and Charger Logistics also have meaningful cross-border TL exposure.

“In Laredo, I feel like there is an opportunity for another big carrier to step up,” Ryley said. “Celadon’s closure is going to lead to a vacuum for a couple of months, like when Covenant and other companies pulled out of Mexico.”

Ryley added that Celadon’s closing could give 3PL providers specializing in cross-border freight a chance for growth.

“Usually, when a customer works with just one carrier, they are at the mercy of that carrier,” Ryley said. “Working with brokers can provide shippers with options; you are not tied to one carrier.”

Jesus Alvarez, head of carrier sales for digital freight marketplace Fr8Hub, agreed that clients might want to consider new strategies — long-term strategies — when planning for cross-border shipments.

“Celadon’s competitors — P.A.M., Schneider, Landstar — those kinds of big guys are probably going to absorb a lot of that volume as well. But then it goes back to if you’re relying on giving all this volume to this one carrier, or are you looking for history to repeat itself?” Alvarez said. “Why not, you know, open up a bit more — working with brokers, working with carriers. Investing in it long term as opposed to, you know, just trying to send a quick fix.”

Celadon has closed all of its divisions, including its cross-border carriers Hyndman Transport in Canada and Jaguar Transportation in Mexico.

Some key commodities that cross the U.S.-Mexico border by truck include fresh produce, cars and automotive parts, home appliances, personal computers, oil and gas pipeline steel, beverages, sugar, and livestock.

Silver said Forager is “already getting dozens of calls from customers asking us to re-power stranded loads, and that number just keeps growing.”

“Luckily Forager has a very diverse network, so our capacity is as strong as ever. We’re ready to pick up the cross-border slack,” Silver said.

Marc Vickers, CEO of Borderless Coverage, also believes Celadon’s closing “will tighten up cross-border capacity in the near term.”

Borderless coverage provides Mexican cargo insurance for brokers, shippers, customs brokers and carriers. 

“It will also force shippers to open up lanes to new carriers/brokers which have been contracted with Celadon for decades,” Vickers said.

Even before Celadon declared bankruptcy, the freight market has been soft and “slow all around,” said Ernesto Gaytan Jr., general manager of Laredo-based carrier Super Transport International.

“I have been speaking to many carriers about this slowdown, and it seems that mostly everyone agrees,” Gaytan said. “The driver shortage is still there — I’m sure carriers in the rest of the nation will be adding drivers from [Celadon’s] fleet.”

Celadon’s facility was located on the same road next door to Super Transport International in Laredo. Gaytan said he has not decided if his company will purchase any of Celadon’s equipment.

“At this moment, I don’t think we will be purchasing anything from Celadon. Maybe once this slowdown is over, it would be something we would consider,” Gaytan said.

Fr8Hub’s Alvarez also said they have reached out to employees at Jaguar. Fr8Hub has sales openings in the Bajio region of Mexico.

“We have reached out, let them know we have sales openings. We are always looking for talented, driven people,” Alvarez said.

Source: Celadon’s closure an opportunity for other companies in turbulent times

Making the Steel City a hub for freight – FreightWaves Insiders [podcast]

Michael Ceravolo of Beemac Logistics and Jordan Reber of ARL Logistics are making Pittsburgh a hub for supply chains.


Michael Ceravolo of Beemac Logistics and Jordan Reber of ARL Logistics are making Pittsburgh a hub for supply chains.


2019 has been a tough year for carriers in this episode our experts offer advice on navigating the next five years in freight

Listen to more FreightWaves Podcasts

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Source: Making the Steel City a hub for freight – FreightWaves Insiders [podcast]

Analyst: Fuel costs set to double, box lines rush for scrubbers

Shipyards are facing a scrubber stampede as container lines seek to sidestep paying for low-sulfur IMO 2020 bunkers beginning on Jan. 1.

With high-sulfur fuels currently around half the price of low-sulfur options, container lines are rushing vessels to shipyards to get scrubbers fitted ahead of new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that become mandatory at the start of 2020.

The rules state that unless some form of emission abatement technology such as scrubbers has been installed on vessels, the sulfur content of fuel oil burned by ships operating outside designated emission control areas must not exceed 0.5%, compared to 3.5% now.

According to Alphaliner, more than 10% of container ship capacity will be fitted with scrubbers by January, with more to follow over the next two years. The differential between high-sulfur fuel (HFO) and low-sulfur fuel (LSFO) prices is the main driver of scrubber demand.

“The very high take-up rate for scrubbers reflects the attractive economics for these ships with the current price spread for low-sulfur fuel oil over HFO already reaching $250 per ton, which would provide the operators of these ships with substantial savings compared to conventional units that would need to switch to LSFO,” said a note from Alphaliner.

However, the strategy of carriers is widely divergent (see chart below), with some including Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Maersk betting big on scrubbers, while others including Ocean Network Express (ONE) are hoping that low-sulfur prices will eventually subside.

Source: Alphaliner

A rising scrubber tide

The attraction of scrubbers has gradually increased through 2019 (see chart below). The number of container ships fitted with sulfur scrubbers reached 212 units (1.79 million twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs) on Dec. 10, according to Alphaliner, with an additional 101 units currently at repair yards undergoing retrofits.

“Taken together, the scrubber-fitted ships will account for some 5.9% of the total number of container ships — or 11.8% of the total TEU capacity of the global fleet — by early 2020 when the new IMO 2020 sulfur cap comes into effect,” said Alphaliner.

“More scrubber-fitted container ships are expected to be delivered in the next two years, including both newbuildings and retrofitted units that could possibly bring their total number to some 1,000 ships for 10 million TEU by the end of 2022.”

Source: Alphaliner

The cost to lines of yard delays

However, the long line of container ships waiting to enter repair yards and their extended stays while there being fitted with scrubbers is costing carriers dearly in terms of vessel downtime, noted Alphaliner.

Average yard stays for vessels undergoing retrofits is now around 59 days, with 17% of vessels now out of action for more than 80 days. For larger ships, the cost of the downtime could be as much as $30,000 to $50,000 per day, although as FreightWaves has reported, the reduction in capacity is helping support spot freight rates.

“MSC has been the most badly affected by these delays, with at least 15 of its ships clocking yard stays of over 80 days” reported Alphaliner. “The yard delays are also causing severe congestion with at least five MSC ships currently waiting for up to eight weeks to enter the repair yards, with shipyards in the Zhoushan region in China especially congested in the last two months.”

However, those carriers that take the pain of lost revenues now are set to gain next year from lower operating costs.

“These ships will be able to enjoy the lower price of standard heavy fuel oil, with current IFO380 bunker price dropping to just $255/ton compared to LSFO price of over $510/ton [based on prices at Rotterdam],” noted Alphaliner.

More FreightWaves and American Shipper articles by Mike

Source: Analyst: Fuel costs set to double, box lines rush for scrubbers

FreightWaves / [FW]Air cargo may be poised for a 2020 upturn
« on: December 13, 2019, 01:00:11 PM »
Air cargo may be poised for a 2020 upturn

IATA is optimistic that the trade wars, geopolitical tensions, Brexit and social unrest of 2019 will be less damaging in 2020, offering air cargo stakeholders welcome respite.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) broke out in seasonal goodwill on Dec. 11, predicting that a new year will bring fresh cheer for the cargo sector.

Cargo traffic is expected to grow 2.0% in 2020 after a year of slowing economic growth, trade wars, geopolitical tensions, uncertainty over Brexit and social unrest contributed to a 3.3% contraction in airline freight business, Director General Alexandre de Juniac said in an annual address to media at the group’s Swiss headquarters.

It was the first downturn for the sector in seven years. The 3.3% annual decline in demand was the steepest drop since 2009, during the global financial crisis.

IATA is forecasting 62.4 million cargo tons in 2020, a 2% increase over the 61.2 million tons carried in 2019, as world trade rebounds. The 2019 tally represents the lowest aggregate tonnage figure in three years. The IATA forecast values international trade shipped by air next year at $7.1 trillion.

Yields will continue to slide, with a 3% decline forecast for 2020, an improvement from a 5% decline in 2019. Cargo revenues will slip for a third year in 2020, with revenues expected to total $101.2 billion, down 1.1% from 2019, according to IATA.

The worldwide freight load factor, measured as a percentage of available freight ton kilometers (AFTKs), is forecast at 46.3%, down slightly from 46.7% estimated for the current year and 49.3% posted for 2018.

IATA estimates the global airline industry will produce a net profit of $29.3 billion in 2020, up from $25.9 billion expected in 2019 (revised downward from $28 billion forecast in June.) Achieving that would make 2020 the industry’s 11th consecutive year in the black.

Airlines in Asia Pacific were the most exposed to weakness in world trade and cargo this year. The modest recovery in world trade will support profits next year in the region, according to the forecast.

2019 was a difficult business environment for airlines, “yet the industry managed to achieve a decade in the black, as restructuring and cost-cutting continued to pay dividends. It appears that 2019 will be the bottom of the current economic cycle, and the forecast for 2020 is somewhat brighter,” de Juniac said.

IATA and the World Bank anticipate global GDP to expand by 2.7% in 2020 (marginally above the 2.5% growth in 2019). World trade growth is expected to rebound to 3.3% from 0.9% in 2019, with easing of some trade tensions expected.

IATA reported in October that airline CFOs and heads of cargo were positive about future growth in air travel but less positive about cargo due to the slowdown in world trade as a result of trade disputes. However, central banks have reacted to the slowdown by easing monetary policy, and governments have used fiscal policy to stimulate domestic demand, limiting the risk of recession.

The regional profit picture is mixed in both 2019 and 2020. Africa, the Middle East and Latin America are all expected to lose money in 2019, with carriers in Latin America returning to profit in 2020 as regional economies strengthen. Airlines in North America continue to lead on financial performance, accounting for 65% of industry profits in 2019 and around 56% of aggregate earnings in 2020. Financial performance is expected to improve or remain the same compared to 2019 in all regions except for North America, where expected capacity growth owing to new aircraft deliveries could put pressure on earnings, according to IATA.

Source: Air cargo may be poised for a 2020 upturn

FreightWaves / [FW]Volga-Dnepr veteran takes top cargo job at UK airport
« on: December 13, 2019, 01:00:11 PM »
Volga-Dnepr veteran takes top cargo job at UK airport

East Midlands Airport is adding an experienced air cargo manager to head cargo operations during a period of expansion.

East Midlands Airport, the largest dedicated air cargo operation in the United Kingdom, has named Stephen Harvey vice president of cargo. He is expected to leverage his airline experience and relationships to help the airport attract new business.

Harvey joins the airport authority from CargoLogicManagement, the management and sales service side of the Volga-Dnepr Group of international all-cargo airlines, where he was director of business partnerships and new market development.

He previously was chief commercial officer for CargoLogicAir, a London-based scheduled cargo airline and subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Group. During his 30-year career, he has also held senior sales positions in Europe for Atlas Air and Volga-Dnepr.

Financially troubled Moscow-based Volga-Dnepr has lost several top executives in the past year.

East Midlands Airport (EMA) handles 370,000 tons of cargo per year, second only to London’s Heathrow International Airport. Cargo volume is up 1.5% this year despite overall market weakness, and the value of non-European Union goods moving through has risen in the past 12 months by $1.3 billion, to $14.5 billion. Major users include integrators DHL, UPS, FedEx/TNT and Royal Mail.

Harvey joins the airport in the midst of a major expansion campaign. His portfolio will include long-range planning and investment, and marketing the airport to airlines.

The airport authority recently confirmed talks with Chinese officials in an effort to encourage direct cargo service between EMA and Chongquing Jianbei International Airport in southwest China.

Major infrastructure work is underway as EMA works to triple volumes within a decade or two. Extension of an apron serving the FedEx, UPS and Royal Mail operations is nearly complete. It will allow up to four more aircraft to be parked at any time as the delivery companies expand their schedules.

A new facility for UPS is under construction in the same area. The $150 million terminal will double the size of the UPS operation at EMA and make it the company’s largest air logistics hub outside the U.S.

EMA said it plans to unveil a new commercial strategy that will outline new investments it intends to make to respond to future growth in demand for air cargo.

“The opportunities for the airport are significant, particularly as the UK considers new trading relationships with countries all over the world. In future years, EMA will play an even more critical role in facilitating UK trade, supporting businesses and creating jobs for people in this region. I look forward to helping the airport achieve this,” Harvey said in a statement.

Source: Volga-Dnepr veteran takes top cargo job at UK airport

FreightWaves / [FW]Upside down: Asia-to-Oceania rates rise but volumes fall
« on: December 13, 2019, 01:00:11 PM »
Upside down: Asia-to-Oceania rates rise but volumes fall

A conceptualization of logistics trade routes to / from Oceania and AsiaWhen demand falls, prices fall too — or they should. Yet on the southbound Asia-Oceania trade lane rates are up but volumes are down.

A conceptualization of logistics trade routes to / from Oceania and Asia

Spot market freight rates on the southbound Asia-Oceania trade lane are defying the laws of economics as rates are rising but volumes are falling, according to new insights from maritime analyst Drewry.

Declining ocean volumes

Volumes have declined for four consecutive quarters on the Asia-to-Oceania route, according to data derived from Container Trade Statistics. This last occurred in the early part of the decade.

Year-to-date volumes to Oceania from Northeast Asia have fallen by 5.3% and from Southeast Asia by 6.2%. Container volumes into Australia, which covers 84% of the trade (the rest mostly to New Zealand), have fallen by 7%, Drewry said.

Drewry attributed the fall in volumes to a “sluggish” Australian economy, noting that there has been “weak spending growth in the household sector.”

Australia’s economy

According to Peter Martin, visiting fellow at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, the Australian economy barely grew this year. In the quarter ending March this year, the economy grew by 0.5%. In the quarter ending June this year, the economy grew by 0.6%. And for the quarter ending September this year, the economy grew 0.4%.

Over the year to September, the Australian economy grew 1.7% “well short of the budget forecasts, which in year average terms were 2.25% for 2018-19 and 2.75% for 2019-20”, Martin writes. The 10 year average is about 2.6%. 

And that’s important for maritime trade because, as shown by Martin Stopford in his book “Maritime Economics,” gross domestic product is highly positively correlated with the volume of maritime trade — the higher the levels of gross domestic product country then higher the volumes of trade.

Meanwhile, real household spending grew by 0.1% in the July-to-September quarter and, over the year to September, inflation-adjusted spending grew by 1.6%, “meaning [that] the volume of goods and services bought per person went backwards,” Martin said.

It’s true. Seasonally adjusted retail figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the percentage change from June to September quarters of “turnover in volume terms” went marginally backward with a figure of minus 0.1% recorded.

One of the main reasons for the slowdown in consumer spending is that wages in Australia are stagnating. Annual wage growth in total hourly rates of pay (excluding bonuses) in June was about 2.3%. In mid-2012, that figure was close to 4%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Obviously, higher wages should (barring a huge surge in costs) translate into higher disposable income. Conversely, lower wages should (barring a huge fall in costs) translate into lower disposable income.

Attempts at stimulus

Meanwhile, Australia’s federal government tried to boost spending by making tax cuts, delivered in the form of a tax rebate (i.e., actual cash in the taxpayer’s pocket), from July 1 onward.

Drewry said it “remains to be seen” whether the tax cuts to stimulate consumer spending will translate into imports from Asia. But the signs don’t look good for that scenario.

According to Martin, by the end of November, the Australian Taxation Office had issued more than 8.8 million tax refunds totaling A$25 billion (just over $17 billion).

“Instead of being largely spent, they were mostly saved, pushing up the household saving ratio from 2.7% to 4.8%, its highest point in more than two years,” Martin wrote.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia has announced it will begin quantitative easing as the overnight cash rate (the rate of interest that banks pay each other overnight) approaches 0.25%. Eight years ago the cash rate was 4.5% and now it is about 0.75%.

Quantitative easing happens when a central bank, here the Reserve Bank of Australia, buys existing government bonds. That tends to push asset prices up, force interest rates down (thereby lessening the burden on companies and households with large debts such as working capital overdrafts and mortgages) and, in theory, should encourage people and companies to borrow more money as debt becomes cheaper. The hope is that they will invest and buy more.

Meanwhile, as previously reported in FreightWaves’ Down Under Trucking, the Australian government has announced that it will bring forward A$3.8 billion ($2.6 billion) of infrastructure investment.

An intriguing anomaly: freight rates rise despite fall in volumes

Although the fundamental of the Asia-Oceania trade (i.e., Australia’s domestic economy) is weakening, Drewry has noticed an intriguing anomaly.

“Curiously, while container demand has ebbed away for most of the year, freight rates — at least from Northeast Asia — have actually taken the opposite path since June. Drewry’s Container Freight Rate Insight reports that average 40-foot container prices from Shanghai to Melbourne have nearly trebled over the course of seven months, rising from $1,090 in May to $2,800 in November,” the maritime analyst writes.

Drewry attributed the November peak (the highest since February 2018) partly to the introduction of IMO 2020-related emergency bunker fuel surcharges and also to increased port handling fees by container terminal operators, which FreightWaves has extensively reported on.

Reduced supply of container slots drove rates higher

However, it appears that higher freight rates on the north Asia-Oceania corridor have been caused by a reduction in the supply of marine carriage. Maersk, Hamburg Sud and MSC suspended one of their loops earlier in the year, which cut capacity by four ships of 5,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Although a rival consortium (HMM, APL and Evergreen) later added capacity back to the trade, Drewry reports that “the total number of slots available to the market was still lower than in March thanks to other service rationalisations and void sailings … fewer slots countered the demand lull and pushed Northeast Asia-to-Oceania ship utilisation up from around 60% in March to just over 80% in October.”

Southeast Asia was different

Rates from Southeast Asia to Oceania have not experienced the same upswing because a consortium of shipping lines has added seven ships of 8,500 TEUs and six ships of 5,700 TEUs into the trade (although Maersk took a large amount of capacity away from Southeast Asia when it rededicated it to the Northeast Asia trade).

Drewry reported that slot capacity from Southeast Asia to Oceania in November rose by 11% in October.

“Unsurprisingly, spot rates ex [Southeast] Asia have not had the same impetus as from [Northeast] Asia with Singapore-to-Melbourne spot rates currently only around $1,500/40-foot, according to Drewry’s Container Freight Rate Insight, which is roughly $200 down on where they were at the start of the year,” the maritime analyst concluded.

Source: Upside down: Asia-to-Oceania rates rise but volumes fall

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