Speaking at the “Shipping, Cities and their Interdependencies” lecture in Singapore on 19 June, International Transport Forum’s administrator for ports and shipping Olaf Merk noted that the growing deployment of ULCS has intensified the alliances between liner operators.
Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company are in the 2M alliance, while Mitsui OSK Lines, NYK Line, APL, Hapag-Lloyd, OOCL, and Hyundai Merchant Marine are in the G6 alliance. COSCO, ‘K’ Line, Yang Ming, Hanjin Shipping, and Evergreen are in the CKYHE alliance, while China Shipping Container Lines, UASC, and CMA CGM are in the Ocean Three alliance.
Merk said, “This accelerates the disintegration between ports and cities. In short, mega-ships need mega-ports and cities don’t have the space for that, especially as cities grow. This will need radical solutions and drive the need for special port complexes.”
He said this has led to the design of offshore ports that are situated in locations at some distance from metropolises.
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Merk cited Yangshan deepwater port in Zhejiang province as an example. The port, located on Yangshan Island in Zhejiang’s Hangzhou Bay, is connected to Shanghai by Donghai Bridge.
“Without any doubt, we’ll see more offshore ports like these in the years to come, on locations away from city centres,” said Merk. “Shipping determines the changes of cities and it’s the quest for efficiency that has led to mega-ships and alliances that has a profound impact on cities. As a result, cities have lost the advantages of connections to shipping.”
Although Singapore is reacting to the mega-ship era by building a mega-port in the western industrial estate of Tuas, the world’s biggest transhipment port also faces challenges from its neighbours, said Merk.
Merk said, “One of the future challenges might be more competition for the transhipment functions that Singapore has carried out so successfully. Competitors might be getting their act together and lift regulatory constraints, which could challenge Singapore’s transhipment hub position.”