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July 22, 2021 / 3:00 PM The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, ticked up on Wednesday on gains in the capesize segment.

The index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, added 5 points, or 0.2%, to 3,058.

The capesize index rose 8 points, or 0.2%, to 3,513.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes of iron ore, were up $64 at $29,135.

The gains came even as benchmark iron ore futures in China fell nearly 4% on Wednesday on cooling demand as mills controlled their crude steel production, while arrivals of the steelmaking ingredient gained.

Some steel producers in China’s Jiangsu, Fujian and Yunnan provinces were told by the government to cut production as the country aims to keep its annual output no higher than it made in 2020.

The panamax index dropped 23 points, or 0.6%, to 3,577, the lowest in nearly a month.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, dropped by $205 to $32,195.

Argentina’s government has urged citizens to limit water use in a bid to alleviate pressure on the Parana River, a key grain thoroughfare that is at a 77-year low, a situation which is hampering shipments of cereals including soy and wheat.



July 19, 2021 / 1:40 PM The DITEL 60cm Ku-band maritime VSAT antenna was installed on Shenlan 1, China's first deep-sea fish farm in Qingdao, Shandong province. High-quality, high-speed and stable operation of the equipment ensures the rapid exchange of information, signifying that DITEL will continue to give a hand to Wisdom Ocean Construction. 

Featuring a compact size and lightweight design, DITEL 60cm Ku-band maritime VSAT antenna provides stable and full network coverage for the whole salmon farming platform and offers superior tracking performance. The world's largest intelligent submersible aquaculture facility --- Shenlan 1, is equal to 40 standard swimming pools and weighs 1,500 metric tons. The installation of the satellite system will promote deep-sea aquaculture development towards an intelligent, environmentally friendly business.

The DITEL V61 and V60 are 60cm Ku-band maritime VSAT antennas. VSAT antenna system is composed of antenna, BUC, LNB, ACU and Modem to complete the transmission, reception and information modulation of satellite signals. DITEL maritime VSAT antenna can automatically track the satellite to support remote control by PC and mobile, video monitoring, broadband, video conference, VoIP and other network applications. According to the choice of tracking different satellites, the requirements of vessel operation in different sea areas can be satisfied.

DITEL is one of the world's leading providers of maritime satellite communication systems. DITEL's stabilized satellite antenna systems are chosen to deliver connectivity around the world. Founded in 2009, DITEL is leading the way in driving innovation in the satellite communication market and making firm strides towards the water world.

July 13, 2021 / 9:30 AM Cargo congestion has reached historic proportions during the COVID-19 pandemic as the demand for imports by U.S. consumers and businesses has skyrocketed combined with an increase in operational disruptions. The effect has been felt across global supply chains, including the U.S.

On July 9, 2021, President Joe Biden took aim at the ocean shipping sector of the maritime industry with the issuance of his Executive Order (E.O.) on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The E.O. addresses shipping, along with other industries, and is intended to promote fair competition in the American economy. The E.O. specifically references consolidation in the maritime shipping industry during the past couple of decades, suggesting that such consolidation may disadvantage U.S. exporters. To this end, the E.O. encourages the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) "to ensure vigorous enforcement against shippers charging American exporters exorbitant charges and to "consider further rulemaking to improve detention and demurrage practices and enforcement of related Shipping Act prohibitions."

Notably, the E.O. also calls on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to cooperate with the FMC and other agencies on the investigation and enforcement of existing antitrust laws.

The E.O. follows significant and ongoing activity involving the FMC concerning intermodal congestion. The Commission initiated Fact Finding No. 29, International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement, in order to identify operational solutions to cargo delivery system challenges related to COVID-19. The E.O. also follows a June 15, 2021, hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on Impacts of Shipping Container Shortages, Delays, and Increased Demand on the North American Supply Chain, at which FMC Chairman Daniel B. Maffei highlighted how overseas shipping is critical to all Americans and how invaluable the contribution of ocean transportation is to economic competitiveness and our way of life. 

Although these ocean shipping and intermodal transportation system concerns are not new, the E.O. raises the profile and attention on the matters. Stakeholders in the industry should review the E.O. and closely monitor further industry developments with the FMC, Surface Transportation Board (STB) and DOJ.

July 15, 2021 / 7:00 AM The president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, visits Port Houston Thursday to mark five years since his country completed the expansion of the Panama Canal, which provided new markets and opportunities for Greater Houston’s industries and cemented the port’s standing as leading center of international trade.

The canal expansion has provided a gateway to fast-growing Asian economies for Houston’s vital energy sector, opening not long after Congress lifted a 40-year ban on crude exports at the end of 2015 and the first shipments on liquefied natural gas left the Gulf Coast in early 2016. After the expansion was completed, the value of Houston energy exports to Asia — excluding chemicals and plastics — more than tripled to nearly $13 billion in 2019, according to Commerce Department data.

The expanded canal, which provides a shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific, has also established Houston as a key entryway for consumer and other goods from Asia and allowed the region to challenge the West Coast for the import business. Since 2016, import containers moving through Port Houston from East Asia have grown 63 percent, according to the port. As a result, Houston has become a major distribution hub for retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Dollar Tree, Home Depot and IKEA. Since 2018 about 24 distribution centers have come to Houston, creating an estimated 6,400 new jobs, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

“If you go back a decade or so we virtually had zero container ships,” Roger Guenther, the executive director of Port Houston said. “Most cargo came through the West Coast and came into Texas by rail. (The canal expansion) has been a game changer for Houston.” Trade is a critical component of the local and state economies. Port Houston estimates that trade moving through the Houston Ship Channel generates nearly 1.4 million jobs in Texas and $339 billion in economic activity.

Cortizo Cohen, elected in 2019, is expected to have a round table discussion with Port Houston officials on topics such as the port’s plans to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel to accommodate larger ships.


July 8, 2021 / 10:25 AM McCarthy Construction Cos. was recently awarded three construction projects aimed at expanding cargo capacity at Port Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.

Two of the projects, totaling $99 million, are for the port’s expansions at its Bayport Container and Barbours Cut terminals. The third is to expand a dock along the Houston Ship Channel for a petrochemical company, McCarthy said in a release.

The Bayport Container Terminal project at Wharf 6 includes construction of a 1,000-foot-long wharf to allow for the latest generation of container cranes, enabling larger ships to call Port Houston. Construction on Wharf 6 is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Wharf 6 at the Bayport Container Terminal is undergoing a $200 million expansion to stay ahead of the continuing growth in cargo volume, port officials said.

“If you look at a wharf, it doesn’t do as much good to build a wharf if we don’t build a yard behind it, and it doesn’t do as much good to build the wharf or the yard if we don’t buy the equipment to run it,” Thomas J. Heidt, Port Houston’s chief operating officer, said during the  port commission meeting June 22.

Port Houston handled 288,127 twenty-foot equivalent units in May, a 30% increase compared to the same month in 2020. McCarthy is also adding 10 acres of new shipping container storage at the Barbours Cut Terminal Container Yard 3N, the company said. The project, which also includes utility and road upgrades, is scheduled to be completed in 2022. 

McCarthy was also awarded a project by an international petrochemical bulk storage terminal services company located in Port Houston. McCarthy declined to name the company at this time.

The petrochemical operator project is for the construction of a new unloading barge dock and the addition to an existing bulkhead wall. It is scheduled to be completed in 2022. 

St. Louis-based McCarthy has worked on various projects at Port Houston over the past 30 years. The company recently completed projects at Bayport Container Terminal wharves 4 and 5, as well as a new container yard project at the Barbours Cut Terminal.

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