Nov 23

Waiting game: Tankers moored off Devon waiting for oil prices to rise even further

Last week it was revealed that 54 oil tankers are anchored off the coast of Britain, refusing to unload their fuel until prices have risen.

But that is not the only scandal in the shipping world. Today award-winning science writer Fred Pearce – environmental consultant to New Scientist and author of Confessions Of An Eco Sinner – reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use.

We’ve all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-Channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats.

It looks foul, and leaves a brown haze across ports and shipping lanes. But what hasn’t been clear until now is that it is also a major killer, probably causing thousands of deaths in Britain alone.

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.

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Oct 25


(Keep a close eye on the Baltic Dry Index now.)


Shanghai: Alarm bells are ringing for liner firms as one of the most accurate gauges of the container index fell for the first time in more than four months today.

The China Containerised Freight Index, operated by the Shanghai Shipping Index, dropped for the first time since early June today. Despite lines reporting increased volumes and some being successful with rate increases this news will be a hammer blow for the industry.

The CCFI takes data from the leading 20 lines operating out of China. Its numbers have been consistently in line with the fortunes of the container sector over the years, especially since China accounts for one in two boxes moved.

With container shipping often a precursor of the world economy, the drop in the CCFI has some analysts suggesting the global economy could be in for a nasty double dip recession.

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May 15

Sunrise in the Strait between Indonesia and Singapore, where 735 cargo ships were gathered Tuesday because of a sharp decline in global exports.

SINGAPORE – To go out in a small boat along Singapore’s coast now is to feel like a mouse tiptoeing through an endless herd of slumbering elephants.

One of the largest fleets of ships ever gathered idles here just outside one of the world’s busiest ports, marooned by the receding tide of global trade. There may be tentative signs of economic recovery in spots around the globe, but few here.

Hundreds of cargo ships – some up to 300,000 tons, with many weighing more than the entire 130-ship Spanish Armada – seem to perch on top of the water rather than in it, their red rudders and bulbous noses, submerged when the vessels are loaded, sticking a dozen feet out of the water.

So many ships have congregated here – 735, according to AIS Live ship tracking service of Lloyd’s Register-Fairplay in Redhill, Britain – that shipping lines are becoming concerned about near misses and collisions in one of the world’s most congested waterways, the straits that separate Malaysia and Singapore from Indonesia.

The root of the problem lies in an unusually steep slump in global trade, confirmed by trade statistics announced on Tuesday.

China said that its exports nose-dived 22.6 percent in April from a year earlier, while the Philippines said that its exports in March were down 30.9 percent from a year earlier. The United States announced on Tuesday that its exports had declined 2.4 percent in March.

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