Maersk Line scores big in energy efficiency
… Sets to adjust capacity for Triple-Es’ service
Maersk Line’s 2012 Sustainability Progress Update shows strong progress on carbondioxide (CO2) performance and container sustainability.
“Maersk Line’s energy efficiency improvements in 2012 have led to a remarkable achievement which we are very proud of – we have met our 25 per cent CO2 emissions reduction target eight years early,” Chief Executive Officer of Maersk Liner Business, Søren Skou, said.
Earlier this year, Maersk Line announced that it will now go for a 40 per cent CO2 reduction per container kilometre by 2020 (baseline: 2007).
The Triple-E vessels, which Maersk Line will start to take delivery of in mid-2013, will contribute greatly to reaching the new CO2 target for 2020.
Maersk Line has witnessed an increasing number of customers requesting sustainability data or engaging in dialogue on the issue.
In 2012, Maersk Line’s customers saved 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 by shipping with Maersk Line compared to choosing a shipping line with an industry average performance.
“We welcome and encourage this interest and hope to see much more of it in 2013. An increased demand for shipping services with a strong sustainability profile will help drive industry-wide change, thereby enabling more sustainable global trade,” Skou said.
The dollar value of the energy efficiency improvements is clear: If Maersk Line had not improved its efficiency since 2007, the fuel cost would have been approximately USD 1.6 billion higher in 2012, effectively swinging Maersk Line’s overall financial result from positive to negative.
Since 2010, Maersk Line has had a policy to only buy new containers with sustainability floorboards (bamboo or FSC-certified hardwood).
Approximately 30 per cent of Maersk Line’s container fleet is now equipped with sustainable floorboards.
While the frequency of accidents declined, Maersk Line experienced a total of four fatalities in 2012.
“Any fatality is unacceptable. Our target is to bring the number of fatalities down to zero, and we are working hard to minimise the number of work-related accidents,” Skou added.
Meanwhile, Maersk Line intends to take measures to avoid a repetition of the ocean container shipping ‘rate wars’ of previous years.
With a capacity of 18,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) containers, the Triple-E will be the largest container ship ever built.
Maersk acknowledged that the introduction of the new vessels comes at a challenging time, with weak demand putting strains on all carriers.
The Triple-E is built for the Asia-to-Europe (AE) service, Maersk Line’s most important trade lane.
Volumes on that trade shrank by five per cent in 2012, estimates industry analyst Alphaliner, and are expected to grow by only 1% in 2013.
Does that make the vessels a bad investment?
“Not at all,” Skou said. “First of all, most of the ships will not be delivered until 2014, so with five Triple-Es joining the fleet this year the capacity injection in 2013 is quite minimal. As we introduce new and larger ships, if the market is not growing we will pull out other capacity to make the balance for us.”
Maersk Line said that they are monitoring demand closely and are ready to adjust capacity accordingly to avoid a repetition of the devastating rate wars of some of the previous years.
There are a number of ways to do that, including returning chartered vessels to leasing partners, scrapping or recycling excess tonnage, idling parts of the fleet and further implementing slow steaming.
The plan is to phase in the Triple-E vessels on the AE10 service, which currently calls at 13 different ports between Asia and Northern Europe.
“They will replace the 13,100 TEU charter tonnage vessels, which will be cascaded to other services,” Chief Operating Officer Morten Engelstoft said, “We estimate that we will only increase capacity by about 1.5 per cent in 2013, in line with our ambition of growing with the market.”
The cascading exercise serves another purpose, as removing excess capacity also means that the least efficient and more polluting vessels are pulled out of the network.
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