Booming China-Russia Box Tradeline Witnesses New Players Joining

Credit: Nathan Cima/Unsplash

Safetrans Line, sister company of Alibaba shipping affiliate Transfar Shipping, has launched a liner service linking China with Morocco and Russia, joining several other newcomers on the Russian lane.

Boost Frequency

According to Linerlytica, the St Petersburg Direct service, calling at Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Nansha, Tangier (irregular), St Petersburg and Qingdao, began yesterday with the newly chartered 3,469 teu Heng Hui 2. Three chartered ships from Zhonggu Logistics, of 3,398-4,872 teu Transfar has diverted from its waning transpacific service, will soon join the loop, as will three more in April to boost frequency. Transfar and Safetrans are owned by China-based forwarder Worldwide Logistics, in which Alibaba’s logistics unit Cainiao has a minority stake.

In its latest report released yesterday, Linerlytica remarked: “One year after the Russia-Ukraine conflict started on 24 February 2022, there have been significant shifts in the Russian container shipping landscape after sanctions shut off most of the traditional Baltic trade to Russia.” Players unfazed by sanctions targeting Russia have jumped into the fray, with newcomers such as Safetrans, Torgmoll, Reel Shipping and OVP Shipping adding ships to the trade.

Congestion At Gateways

Congestion at the Russian Far East gateways of Vladivostok and Vostochny have generated demand for new services from Asia to the Black Sea and Baltic gateways of Novorossiysk and St Petersburg. MSC retains a considerable presence in the Russian trades with feeder operations in all three Russian gateways while reputational risks have seen the other key European carriers withdrawing completely from the market.

Linerlytica analyst Tan Hua Joo told The Loadstar: “The Russian market is booming due to high cargo demand, with the Vladivostok gateway currently severely congested and carriers are opening new services to the Black Sea and Baltic gateways. Depending on which gateway, rates are highly elevated, starting from $6,000/feu.” 

Linerlytica estimates there are now 89 ships totalling nearly 92,000 TEU, serving the Russia Far East trade. Russian container carriers have been acquiring tonnage to meet healthy demand, even as the overall freight market is bleak. Anecdotal accounts from ship brokers indicate that FESCO and other Russian interests have been actively buying ships, as freight rates for Russia-linked routes remain steady. Alphaliner reported that in the last 18 months, FESCO has purchased four boxships, with the latest additions being the 2008-built 698 teu FESCO Tatarstan (ex JRS Corvus) 2010-built 704 teu Acacia Ming, which were bought from Chinese owner Goto Shipping for $8.1m and $10m, respectively, in January.

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Source: TheLoadstar


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