Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scotland Welcomes New Container Shipping Service

Inaugural Call for European Box Feeder Vessel
Shipping News Feature

UK – Following our announcement in April that Unifeeder were to expand their box line services to Eastern British ports comes the news that the first of the company’s vessels on the new short sea route arrived at Grangemouth last weekend giving Scottish exporters direct access not only to the mainland European hubs of Rotterdam and Felixstowe, but extending into the rapidly expanding Baltic and Russian markets.

Growth at Grangemouth, Scotland’s largest container port handling around 9 million tonnes of cargo each year, has been striking mainly due to its accessibility via the motorway network and gauge free rail connections. Sitting exactly 26 miles from the centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh, container traffic at the port has grown by 150% over the last 10 years with box volumes growing to 150,000 TEU per annum.

The Danish company Unifeeder is Europe’s largest provider of short-sea container services linking ports across the North Sea and the Baltic with the international oceanic hubs of Rotterdam and Hamburg, and our photograph shows the MV Veersdijk which docked on Saturday morning and sailed for Rotterdam the same day, being the first of the three Unifeeder vessels that will work on the 3 new loops.

Scottish freight through Grangemouth, which unusually for these days is principally export, represents around 17.5% of the country’s gross domestic product, much of which is from the many whisky distilleries in the region. Grangemouth is added to the port rota for the feeder service which also includes Felixstowe, Immingham, Teesport and South Shields.

Feeder services are growing in popularity as they conform to most shippers’ desire to prove their environmental credentials. According to Forth Ports, who operate six other ports besides Grangemouth stretching from Tilbury to Dundee, researchers conducting an evaluation for the World Economic Forum found that ‘the entire container voyage from China to Europe is equalled in CO2 emissions by about 200 kilometres of long-haul trucking in Europe.’ Fuel efficiency of container ships has improved by 35% between 1985 and 2008 and companies like Unifeeder are proving key components in the European Union's ‘Motorways of the Sea’ programme which seeks to shift traffic from roads to short sea crossings.

Photo of the Veersdijk by Klaklak.