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FreightWaves / [FW]OFAC fires another sanctions salvo at Venezuelan oil tankers
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 08:08:16 AM »
OFAC fires another sanctions salvo at Venezuelan oil tankers

The Treasury Department agency is closely monitoring vessel name changes used by Venezuelan and Cuban authorities to sidestep U.S. trade sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has blacklisted another six tankers operated by the Venezuelan government-controlled oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA).

OFAC said it has targeted Venezuelan oil shipments because the proceeds from the sales are used to finance the Maduro regime.

The blacklisted vessels are the Icaro, Luisa Caceres de Arismendi, Manuela Saenz, Paramaconi, Terepaima and Yare. All but the Icaro, which is registered to Panama, operate under the Venezuelan flag.

The agency also identified the Greek-flagged tanker Esperanza as blocked property of Caroil Transport Marine Ltd. The vessel previously had been listed on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List as the Nedas on April 12.

“Cuba and the former Maduro regime continue trying to circumvent sanctions by changing the names of vessels and facilitating the movement of oil from Venezuela to Cuba,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Justin Muzinich in a statement.

OFAC said Cuba received Venezuelan oil on the blocked tankers this fall. During this same time period, PdVSA invoiced Cubametales, the Cuban state-run oil import and export company, for roughly 1.3 million barrels of fuel oil delivered this summer. On July 3, OFAC added Cubametales to the SDN List.

The money received from the oil shipments to Cuba was transferred to a Russian bank account, OFAC said.

OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit U.S. business transactions with entities and persons placed on the SDN List. 

Source: OFAC fires another sanctions salvo at Venezuelan oil tankers
FreightWaves / [FW]Lightning Systems raises $41M as demand for electric trucks grows
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 08:08:16 AM »
Lightning Systems raises $41M as demand for electric trucks grows

Electric powertrain manufacturer Lightning Systems announced a $41 million funding round to help meet growing demand for electric powertrains in U.S. commercial fleets. BP Ventures led the investment round, which was announced Dec. 3, with additional funds from Cupola Infrastructure Income Fund. Colorado-based Lightning Systems designs and manufactures zero-emission, all-electric powertrains for commercial fleets — …

Electric powertrain manufacturer Lightning Systems announced a $41 million funding round to help meet growing demand for electric powertrains in U.S. commercial fleets.

BP Ventures led the investment round, which was announced Dec. 3, with additional funds from Cupola Infrastructure Income Fund.

Colorado-based Lightning Systems designs and manufactures zero-emission, all-electric powertrains for commercial fleets — Class 3 to Class 7 vehicles.

The company is currently delivering powertrains for over $25 million in orders from major public and private entities in the U.S. — from food and delivery trucks to passenger vans and city buses.

The new funds will be used to ramp up production to fulfill new orders for electric powertrains for Ford Transits, Ford E-450s, Ford F-59 step vans, Chevrolet Low Cab Forward 6500XD trucks and Lightning Electric city buses.

“We are now delivering powertrains for over $25 million in orders from major fleets, propelling Lightning Systems to the position of the established premium provider of a full range of platforms for commercial vehicle fleets,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning Systems, in a statement.

The ramp-up, he added, involves “high-quality powertrains for new and repowered commercial vehicles across Class 3-7 on five major platforms that are on the road with customers today.”

Bowing to regulatory and environmental pressures, a growing number of commercial vehicle manufacturers and fleets are investing in electric propulsion.

Last month, California proposed the nation’s first zero-emissions manufacturing standard, a policy that, if adopted, would require commercial vehicle manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of electric trucks.

“The global electric vehicle market is growing at an unprecedented rate, and we are seeing the electrification of more and more commercial fleets,” said David Hayes, chief investment officer for BP Ventures, in the statement.

Lightning already has a very wide base of vehicles that use its powertrains, Hayes added, “which will be key as fleets look to scale their investments in zero-emission vehicles.”

Founded 10 years ago as a builder of hydraulic hybrids, Lightning Systems pivoted toward fully electric powertrains two years ago.

The company works with fleets to provide electric powertrains sized for the customer’s drive cycle, with a full suite of telematics, analytics and charging solutions to maximize energy efficiency.

Source: Lightning Systems raises $41M as demand for electric trucks grows
By land or sea? Massterly sees autonomous vessels competing with trucks

Short-sea projects in Norway could lead to worldwide wave of crewless, emissions-free ships.

Massterly Vice President Pia Meling said the company jointly owned by Kongsberg Maritime and Wilhelmsen was not launched to eliminate human jobs.

“Our purpose is not to take the jobs of the seafarers on oceangoing ships. It is actually to contribute environmentally friendly and cost-efficient and sustained maritime logistics that can enable transportation of ships at sea. We are talking about competing with roads and trucks,” Meling said at the annual conference of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) in the Cayman Islands.

Massterly, founded last year and headquartered in Lysaker, Norway, touts itself as the first company established to operate autonomous vessels. Its name comes from the acronym for a maritime autonomous surface ship (MASS), defined by the International Maritime Organization as a vessel that, “to a varying degree, can operate independently of human interaction.”

Pia Meling, left, is the vice president of Massterly. (Photo: WISTA International)

“Trucks of course pollute and are involved in accidents, and there’s a lot of congestion around our cities all over the world. And there is a big political will to move goods from road to sea. But the problem is those trucks are dirt cheap,” Meling said. “That’s where autonomy comes in because you can reduce the crew costs, even remove the crew totally for some vessels potentially or reduce the number of crew. You can get to a lower cost base for shipping, meaning that it’s a new market for the maritime industry.”

Meling is a maritime industry veteran. The president of WISTA Norway, she previously worked for dry bulk operator Klaveness. She also was the marketing and communication manager for scrubber manufacturer Clean Marine and an area sales director for Wilhelmsen Ships Service.

She said Massterly is working with Norwegian authorities “to get approval to operate vessels on Level 4 autonomy as it has been defined, which means unmanned but with a shore control center and skilled operators sitting in that shore control center monitoring the voyage and also able to intervene if needed. We need to prove that this is equally safe or safer than conventional vessels.”

Level 4 autonomy means there will be “sensors on board the ship that will replace the eyes and ears of the crew,” she said. “Fundamentally, the captain aboard ship has now moved to a shore control center. That person is still responsible, is still liable. The ship management company is still liable. … It is not as drastic as one would think. The location of the people has changed, but there is a still a captain role on shore and there’s still the same responsibilities for the ship management company.”

Massterly is working with Norwegian grocery distributor ASKO to reduce its reliance on trucks. The Norwegian government has awarded ASKO 119 million krone (US$13 million) to help fund the development of a zero-emissions logistics chain that will involve two autonomous vessels crossing the Oslo Fjord. Massterly is preparing preliminary documentation and helping obtain approvals for shore-based operation of the vessels along the sailing route.

“They have decided to build two vessels that can take them across the fjord with the trucks on board instead of driving to the big city,” Meling said. “We’re looking at the Tesla trucks — zero-emission electric trucks — and also building two of these small ro/ro vessels. … It’s a very simple design but can carry 16 trailers of the trucks across the fjord. It can replace 150 truck trips per day and save 5,000 tons of CO2 per year. It’s also a fully electric vessel.”

Massterly is partnering with Samskip, Europe’s largest multimodal operator, and hydrogen integrator HYON on Seashuttle, a project to bring emissions-free, autonomous container ships to market. Seashuttle has received nearly 61 million krone in Norwegian government support to develop two fully electric ships connecting Poland, Sweden and Norway. The vessels will use hydrogen fuel cells for propulsion.

Meling said other advancements in the maritime industry include a Japanese tanker owner working on zero-emission bunker vessels for Tokyo Bay and a ferry operator using auto-docking functionality.

And then there’s the world’s first fully autonomous container vessel, Yara Birkeland, currently under construction in Norway and set for sea trials in the second quarter of 2020. The zero-emissions vessel will transport agricultural products company Yara’s fertilizer on short-sea voyages.

Meling granted that these early projects do not make sense from a cost perspective. “I must be honest about that, especially the building cost of the vessel. It’s two or three times on all pieces of equipment,” she said. “For the future, you can probably get the capex down. Opex will be a lot less, especially for short-sea vessels.”

The world’s military superpowers already use autonomous technology, a fact that prompted Kathy Metcalf, president and CEO of the Chamber of Shipping of America, to ask, “Is anybody in this room ready to get on an airplane without a pilot?”

Metcalf, also a speaker at WISTA’s conference Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, wondered if the maritime industry should employ autonomous vessels, which she does not believe will be crossing oceans anytime soon. “Because we can, does it mean we should?”

She said her colleagues also have to consider what life would be like on a vessel with just a handful of crew members.

“We’ve had a number of discussions about seafarer welfare. What kind of social environment do we create on a ship with four people, all of which are on watch at one time? That is an issue.”

Source: By land or sea? Massterly sees autonomous vessels competing with trucks
Bad oil news piles up in the Permian and for companies serving it: Dallas Fed

Recent reports out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas paint a gloomy picture regarding prospects in the U.S. oil industry. Even as U.S. crude and total petroleum production continue to set records, that is happening while surrounded by cutbacks in operations that are leading to less spending and fewer jobs. That’s obvious in the …

Recent reports out of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas paint a gloomy picture regarding prospects in the U.S. oil industry.

Even as U.S. crude and total petroleum production continue to set records, that is happening while surrounded by cutbacks in operations that are leading to less spending and fewer jobs. That’s obvious in the recently released data and analysis from the Dallas Fed, contained in both the Permian Basin Economic Indicators and the bank’s Energy Indicators.

The most stunning number comes in its figure for October employment. The Fed reported that in October, the employment category of mining, logging and construction in the Permian Basin of west Texas was down 13.9% year-on-year. That sector, despite its name, is overwhelmingly oil & gas-related. For the first 10 months of the year, the Fed reported employment in the Permian Basin was down just 400 jobs, but that is because of growth in other sectors and oil and gas growth earlier in the year. Through the first 10 months of 2018, total employment was up 16,700 jobs. 

“This marks the first time since 2016 that Permian Basin employment has lagged Texas job growth,” the Dallas Fed said in its report.

The two reports – the Permian Indicators and the Energy Indicators – are bearish across the board and show an industry that while not suffering from a sharp downturn in prices, is reflecting a growing drop in activity. 

“Drilling activity…continued to erode, with firms cutting spending and orders for new equipment,” the Dallas Fed said. “Well completion activity has proved more resilient, particularly in the Permian Basin, slipping only slightly from recent highs. The oilfield services market remained depressed, with little optimism about better margins next year.”

For Texas as a whole, oil and gas extraction jobs in the state dropped in September by 740 jobs from a month earlier, but still, the state as a whole has posted an increase in those jobs of 4,290 for the year. It’s the support field that is getting hammered the most. That sector, mostly oilfield service firms, is down more than 10,500  jobs from a recent high level, the Dallas Fed said.

The report also breaks out Permian-specific data. For example, what it defines as the Permian Basin had production of 4.5 million barrels/day (b/d) in September, an all-time high. That means it’s more than one-third of current U.S. production of about 12.8 million b/d. 

But the Dallas Fed data also reported that the rig count in the region – 417 in October, up just slightly from September – was also down 72 in the past year. 

One way that production has been able to be maintained even as drilling activity is down is through the conversion of what are known as DUCs. DUCs are drilled but uncompleted wells, where the exploratory well has been drilled but the work to complete the well has not. Turning them into productive wells does not take more drilling, so they don’t add to the rig count. But they do bring on more production.

According to the Dallas Fed, DUCs in the Permian Basin hit a high of 3,713 in July but were down in October to 3,589. The drop between September to October was 4.3% and the decline means they’re becoming completed, productive wells.

The Dallas Fed has other data on how things are slowing in the Permian. For example, the median home price in the Permian, which stretches into New Mexico, was down 2.6% in October from August. That brought the median down to $301,045 from $309,094. Sales in October were down to 372, a decline of 3.6% from September.

And while it isn’t unique to the Permian, the broader Energy Indicators report of the Dallas Fed had some sobering statistics on the performance of oil and gas equities. Between March and October, the report said, independent exploration & production companies had a compound annualized decline in their stock values of 33%. That figure would not include integrated giants like Chevron. For equipment and service firms, it was worse – 43%. 

The shale boom has been fueled by a great deal of debt and those obligations in many cases are trading at pennies on the dollar. According to the Dallas Fed, on October 25, the spread between non-energy high-yield debt – in other words, junk bonds for something other than energy – were, on average, trading 413 basis points more than energy junk bonds. That’s the highest since April 2016, when the market was just a month or two off its recent low price for oil. 

Source: Bad oil news piles up in the Permian and for companies serving it: Dallas Fed
FreightWaves NOW: Capacity beginning to relax after Thanksgiving Holiday

In this episode, FreightCaster Kyle Cunningham delivers the carrier update presented by PowerFleet and Market Expert Zach Strickland zeroes in on the Spokane, WA market for brokers.

In this episode, FreightCaster Kyle Cunningham delivers the carrier update presented by PowerFleet and Market Expert Zach Strickland zeroes in on the Spokane, WA market for brokers.

Source: FreightWaves NOW: Capacity beginning to relax after Thanksgiving Holiday
FreightWaves / [FW]Freight Futures daily curve: 12/3
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 01:13:22 AM »
Freight Futures daily curve: 12/3

Trucking Fright Futures open the month generally lower with volatility in the South.

Freight Futures markets to watch today: South Regional and Lane Contracts

The first trading session of December saw Trucking Freight Futures end on a mostly down note. The December National contract (FUT.VNU201912) ended the day 0.2% lower at an even $1.50/mile. The East regional (FUT.VEU201912) and West regional (FUT.VWU201912) contracts also finished the session lower by 0.4% and 0.24% to $1.523 and $1.648, respectively. The South regional contract (FUT.VSU201912) closed unchanged at $1.327. 

The overall bearish sentiment was reflected in the individual lanes where 5 of the 7 contracts finished lower. In the East, the ATL to PHI contract (FUT.CAP201912) closed down $0.12 or 0.71% to $1.677 as did the PHI to CHI contract (FUT.VPC201912), which dropped $0.009 or 0.92% to $0.971. The CHI to ATL contract (FUT.VCA201912) closed higher by 0.26% to $1.922. In the West, both the LAX to SEA (FUT.VLS201912) and SEA to LAX (FUT.VSL201912) contracts closed down by 0.24% and 0.32% to $2.054 and $1.242, respectively. The forward curve for LAX to SEA (FWD.VLS), however, shifted slightly higher beyond the spot month. In the South, volatility returned with each lane moving in equal but opposite directions. The LAX to DAL contract (FUT.VLD201912) ended up $0.019 to $1.635 while the DAL to LAX contract (FUT.VDL201912) closed down by $0.019 to $1.020. The forward curves for the respective lanes (FWD.VLD, FWD.VDL) shifted in a similar manner to the spot contracts.

FreightWaves SONAR: Chart

SONAR Tickers: FUT.VSU201912, FUT.VLD201912, FUT.VDL201912

Source: Freight Futures daily curve: 12/3
FreightWaves / [FW]Bad news, good news for dry bulk shipping
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 01:13:22 AM »
Bad news, good news for dry bulk shipping

Brazil's Vale has cut its iron-ore outlook for the first quarter, but revealed higher-than-expected projections for full-year 2020 and 2021.

Dry bulk is the world’s largest ocean shipping sector by volume, and the most important dry bulk trade lane is Brazil-to-China iron ore, driven by the production of Brazilian miner Vale (NYSE: VALE). Toward the end of what has already been a roller-coaster year, Vale has announced yet another revision to its production outlook, one that implies short-term pain but long-term gain for dry bulk.

New Vale guidance

On Nov. 11, Vale estimated that its full-year 2019 iron-ore sales would be 307-312 million tons, fourth-quarter 2019 (4Q19) sales would be 83-89 million tons and 1Q20 sales would be 70-75 million tons.

On Dec. 12, Vale brought the 1Q19 estimate down to 68-73 million tons, representing a range-midpoint reduction of 2.8%. It cited seasonal weather issues as well as new safety procedures involving the disposal of tailings (waste rock) that will temporarily bring its Brucutu mine to 40% of capacity.

The Brucutu mine was the site of a tragic collapse of a tailings dam in January that killed hundreds of local residents and closed the Brucutu mine for much of the first half of last year. The resultant drop in Brazil-to-China iron ore volumes crippled spot rates for Capesize bulkers (vessels with capacity of 100,000 deadweight tons, DWT, or more; usually around 180,000 DWT).

Now for the good news: While reducing its 1Q20 estimate, Vale is forecasting significant growth for full-year 2020 and 2021. It has just revealed estimates for 2020 sales of 340-355 million tons and 2021 sales of 375-395 million tons. The range midpoints imply volume growth of 12% in 2020 versus 2019 and 11% in 2021 versus 2020.

According to Frode Mørkedal, shipping analyst at Clarksons Platou Securities, “While the 1Q20 guidance would, isolated, put further pressure on a seasonally weak quarter — Capsize 1Q20 FFAs [futures] are currently trading at $14,800 per day — the full-year guidance is positive.” 

He noted that a 180,000 DWT Capesize can do 4.2 Brazil-China voyages per year, and thus, the new Vale guidance implies demand for an additional 53-54 Capesizes in both 2020 and 2021.

Capesize rates rising again

The Vale news comes against a backdrop of rising Capesize rates in late November and early December, the latest twist in a volatile year.

Capesize rates hit a low of around $3,500 per day at the end of the first quarter in the wake of the Brucutu accident, rose to around $20,000 per day by late in the second quarter, then peaked at $38,000 per day in early September. Rates retreated to around $18,000 per day by the third week of November.

Rates then began climbing again. As of Dec. 3, Clarksons Platou Securities estimated that Capesize spot rates had increased to $24,500 per day, up 19.4% week-on-week.

The latest rebound was predicted in FreightWaves interviews last month with Jefferies analyst Randy Giveans and BreakWave Advisors founder John Kartsonas. Kartsonas, whose company created the BreakWave Dry Bulk Shipping ETF (NYSE: BDRY), foresaw a “small rally towards the end of the year” due to “seasonality.” That is now happening.

Giveans foresaw a “December bounce” as iron-ore cargoes picked up and as more Capesizes came offhire for the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers. Starting Jan. 1, any vessel without a scrubber must switch from cheaper 3.5% sulfur fuel to more expensive 0.1-0.5% sulfur fuel. Giveans told FreightWaves that he wouldn’t be surprised if Capesizes topped $25,000 per day and even touched $30,000 per day by year-end. That prediction is on the verge of coming true.

Mørkedal said that the improvement in Capesize rates over recent weeks has been driven by increased spot activity out of Brazil. In other words, there may be a slowdown in 1Q20, but not yet. He also noted that more Capesizes are indeed going out of service for scrubber installations.

He told FreightWaves on Nov. 11 that no more than 16 bulkers of 100,000 DWT or more were in the yards for installations. In a client note on Nov. 28, he doubled that number, to 31, equating to 2% of the global fleet.

Stock-price impacts

The U.S.-listed companies with the greatest exposure to Capesize spot rates are Genco Shipping & Trading (NYSE: GNK), Star Bulk (NASDAQ: SBLK), Golden Ocean (NASDAQ: GOGL), Navios Holdings (NYSE: NM) and Seanergy (NASDAQ: SHIP).

In midday trading on Dec. 3, Capesize rate impacts on the stocks were being overshadowed by the negative pressure related to the U.S.-China trade war. Earlier in the day, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that a resolution to the trade dispute might not come until after the 2020 election.

Ocean shipping stocks in general are being heavily affected by investor sentiment toward the trade war. Dry bulk stocks are particularly exposed given how much demand for these vessels relies on Chinese economic health. It has been argued that a weakening of the Chinese economy will lead to central government stimulus, which will in turn lead to infrastructure construction and thus more iron-ore imports for steel production — but this optimistic theory does not seem to be swaying U.S. stock pickers.  More FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Greg Miller  

Source: Bad news, good news for dry bulk shipping
FreightWaves / [FW]Nor’easter impacts continue across New England
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 01:13:22 AM »
Nor’easter impacts continue across New England

Snowfall, gusty winds, transportation delays ongoing from Boston to Bangor. Troubles possible on I-95.

The nor’easter off the New England coast will stick around for another day. Snowfall continues during daylight hours across much of the region, continuing early this evening primarily in Maine.

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 9:00 a.m. EST

The heaviest snow bands today, Dec. 3, will dump an additional 2 to 5 inches in the Boston metropolitan area; 1 to 3 inches in southeastern New Hampshire (including Portsmouth and Nashua); 3 to 9 inches in various parts of Maine, including the Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Millinocket and Caribou areas. Drivers should expect delays on the I-95 and US-1 corridors through these areas. Wind gusts will reach 35 to 45 mph in some spots, blowing snow and reducing visibility at times.

The Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine Departments of Transportation have not posted any interstate commercial vehicle restrictions as of early this morning, according to their social media sites. However, the speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph on portions of I-295 in Maine.

Besides problems on the roads, disruptions in freight movement are possible at Boston Logan International Airport (ICAO code: BOS), where ground delays are likely. Operations may also be disrupted at the ports of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as Worcester and Fall River, both in Massachusetts. These assets are marked by the dots on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map directly below. Red indicates a predicted “high” risk of disruption.

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 9:00 a.m. EST

The nor’easter will wind down across the region by late afternoon, with the exception of Maine. Snowfall will finally fade there by late evening. Look for lake effect snowfall on Wednesday, Dec. 4, in places such as Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown and portions of Michigan.

Other areas of snowfall today, Dec. 3

Although snowfall is slowing down in the mountains of West Virginia, parts of I-64 and I-79 will remain slick due to snow and ice. The same goes for secondary routes in the area, including those leading to Snowshoe.

Drivers may also run into light snow and freezing drizzle on I-15 through southeastern Idaho, including Pocatello and Idaho Falls. Northwestern Montana won’t be a picnic either. Watch out for snowy and icy conditions over Marias Pass (US-2), as well as the 17-mile stretch of I-90 from Lookout Pass to Haugan.

Looking ahead

A Pacific storm will produce heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada from late tonight through tomorrow, Dec. 4, in addition to the high elevations of the Great Basin (Nevada and Utah) tomorrow and Thursday, Dec. 5. As of this morning, the outlook is for anywhere from 5 to 18 inches in some areas of California, from Kings Canyon to Lake Isabella. The Eastern Slopes of the Sierra Nevada, as well as the White Mountains, could see 4 to 8 inches. Some peaks in the Great Basin may get socked with 12 inches of total snowfall. Meanwhile, parts of southern California will get drenched with 2 to 3 inches of rainfall and the risk of localized flash flooding.

Source: Nor’easter impacts continue across New England
FreightWaves / [FW]The staggering price tag associated with moving precious artwork
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 01:13:22 AM »
The staggering price tag associated with moving precious artwork

The staggering price tag associated with moving precious artwork (Photo: Momart)Moving precious artwork is physically and mentally demanding work, requiring art logistics firms to micromanage every inch of the journey from one art house to the other.
The staggering price tag associated with moving precious artwork (Photo: Momart)

Through the eyes of most of us, the intricacies of the art world are seldom understood or rather misunderstood to be an elitist pursuit. It can be argued that art galleries do draw massive crowds queuing up to have a glimpse of famous art pieces like the Mona Lisa or The Starry Night, but beneath the veneer of fame and sparkle lie thousands of equally valuable fine art pieces that beckon virtually no interest from an average viewer.

This ignorance is even more pronounced in the context of art-related logistics. A casual visit to any major art museum will often bring us face to face with “No Entry: Installation in Progress” signs, beyond which men work tirelessly to set up valuable artwork secured by foam packaging and place them over gilded frames and in many cases, temperature-controlled tempered glass cases. 

Behind every artwork hanging blithely on art gallery or museum walls, there are a plethora of logistical processes that help curators protect them from damage and theft – both when on display and when on the move to art exhibitions or auction houses. 

Though the logistics processes of moving art around the world are akin to the movement of any other freight, the impossibly high cultural and financial costs associated with transporting fragile artwork make this affair highly risky and an endeavor that can afford zero tolerance to mistakes along the way. 

Part of the value of such art has to do with exponentially growing art collectors’ interest in fine art. The global art industry today is worth around $68 billion, climbing 10% every year since 2008. 

The clamor for art means that thousands of priceless artifacts are constantly shipped around the world, mostly between museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors. The value of the pieces being traded has roughly doubled since 2000, thanks mainly to the increased interest from the Asian markets, led by China. 

Moving art pieces from one gallery to another is easier said than done. Curators who want to exhibit artwork on loan have to fly to the galleries that host them to negotiate terms and conditions – a futile attempt more often than not for curators hailing from smaller and lesser-known art houses. In the likelihood of a deal being struck, borrowing art houses will have to employ specialist art transport companies to help them move the pieces to their new destination. 

The delicate nature of the art packing process

Before the art in question moves from its gallery, the art movers need to come to terms with the primary risks associated with shipping art – breakage, wear and tear, smudging and even environment-related damage like temperature changes, damp air and bright light. The fragility of the art warrants those moving the pieces to initially wrap them in acid-free tissue paper – done by skilled workmen wearing gloves, to prevent fingerprints and sweat from smudging the art piece. 

Once the initial wrap is done, an added layer of plastic is used to cover the artwork, to prevent the percolation of moisture through the tissue paper. Several layers of plain cardboard are placed on either side of the piece, which is further reinforced with two pieces of corrugated cardboard, over which a tape is run to make sure it stays in place. 

Bubble wrap can be used as a final touch, to give the piece a cushion, in case of movement shock. Once the art is safely secured, it is lowered into a crate that is custom-made and can snugly fit the wrapped piece.

However, it is also critical to make sure the artwork does not directly contact the bubble wrap; seemingly harmless, it can stick to the art and peel off a part of the pastel. 

Lugging art across borders

Moving priceless artwork is usually left to the professional fine arts logistics companies like Momart and Artex that specialize in packing, transportation, storage and even clearing customs for the piece. Art galleries usually insist on a conservator accompanying the artwork at all times, to be certain that nothing untoward happens to the precious cargo while in transit. 

The process starts at daybreak, when the crate is loaded onto a secure van, which then transports the object to the airport – in the case of it moving far away from its home base. If the art piece is extremely valuable, it usually travels in a first-class air ticket rather than being stowed away as luggage. 

However, if the piece is not worth the price of a first-class ticket, art logistics workers make sure it is safely tucked in as air freight, while receivers await its arrival at the destination airport. Last-mile logistics involves another van that will take the artwork from the airport to its final destination. Depending on the value of the artwork in question, it can be accompanied by guard vehicles or armed guards that sit inside the truck to ascertain its safety. 

Even with such extensive precautions, there have been instances where artwork and artifacts have borne the brunt of movement, mildly disintegrating along the journey. The Getty Institute, one of the world’s largest art organizations, has developed seismic mitigation cases lined by vulcanized rubber, an idea borrowed from its use in NASA’s space shuttles. The cases are said to survive high impact – a painting within one such crate can withstand the force equivalent to a 90-mph car crash. 

Massive price tags of art logistics

Going by the exhaustive details that go into moving art, its logistics comes at a stifling cost. For instance, getting pricey artwork from Australia to the U.K. would set the receiver back by around $75,000. 

This apart, art houses also have to contend with massive premiums that need to be paid to the insurance companies to cover the entirety of the loan period. In the U.K., commercial insurance agencies charge around $100,000 for a three-month period for artworks of famous artists. 

Art logistics companies also have to move the art in absolute secrecy, with very few people knowing the exact coordinates of the object while on the road. The art crates are designed to be unassuming of its precious cargo, to make sure a random observer could never guess its contents. 

To run a successful art exhibition is by no means easy, requiring art logistics companies to precisely monitor the condition of the artwork throughout its journey from its origin, to the time it is hung on the walls as an exhibit, and finally repacked to be sent to its next destination. 

In the end, precious art becomes precious not because it is impossible to recreate, but because it captures the essence of a society that might be long lost to mankind. Art logistics, albeit expensive, is the only way such nuggets of cultural significance be made accessible to people far removed from the society it represents within its gilded frames. 

Source: The staggering price tag associated with moving precious artwork
FreightWaves / [FW]Canadian Pacific breaks grain volume records again
« Last post by NewsBot on December 05, 2019, 01:13:21 AM »
Canadian Pacific breaks grain volume records again

The railway attributes the record to its high efficiency train model and to collaboration with supply chain participants.

Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) hauled an all-time company record of Canadian grain and grain products in November, the company said on Dec. 2.

The railway moved 2.74 million metric tonnes (mmt), a monthly record that’s higher than the previous all-time record of 2.66 mmt in November.

The record volumes come as CP utilizes its 8,500-foot High Efficiency Product (HEP) train model that’s being used in tandem with customer investments at grain terminals. CP has said previously that it expects that more than 20% of CP’s Canadian grain volume will move using this train model by the end of the crop year in July 2020. 

CP has also said it plans to invest C$500 million in 5,900 new high-capacity hoppers cars, with 1,900 new hopper cars already available and another 1,400 hopper cars expected by the end of 2020. The new hopper cars can load up to 10% more grain by weight and 15% more by volume when compared to the older cars that are being replaced.

“CP achieved great things last month for the Canadian grain supply chain in close collaboration with our trusted supply chain enablers,” said Joan Hardy, CP’s vice president of sales and marketing for grain and fertilizers. 

In addition to announcing its monthly grain volume record yesterday, CP also said it unloaded an all-time weekly record of grain shipments at the Port of Thunder Bay in Ontario. Terminals at Thunder Bay unloaded 2,216 railcars during the week of Nov. 18-24, beating the previous weekly record of 2,144 carloads in the fall of 2017.

CP also said it held an Alberta Agricultural Roundtable on Nov. 22 to discuss expanded capacity in the grain supply and its HEP train model. 

The roundtable, which was an effort to align participants around CP’s HEP train model, included agricultural industry representatives; senior government leaders, including Alberta ministers, the Honourable Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Honourable Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation and Member of Parliament for Red Deer-Mountainview Earl Dreeshen; and CP representatives from the operations and sales and marketing teams, CP said. 

“The CP team will keep open the lines of communication with shippers and government leaders as we push to become even more effective and efficient to meet the growing needs of Canada’s agricultural sector,” Hardy said.

Source: Canadian Pacific breaks grain volume records again
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