Maersk Expands Foothold in Iran
Maersk Line has expanded its footprint in Iran by adding a second port of call less than three months after it resumed services to the country following the lifting of sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear program.
The Danish carrier, which suspended services in 2012, has added the port of Bushehr to its Iran coverage, which was relaunched with calls to Bandar Abbas in October, the US-based biweekly magazine The Journal of Commerce reported on its website.
Maersk, which also has an office in Tehran, the Iranian capital, said it selected the port because it is the largest gateway for transportation of goods in the province of Bushehr, with an annual throughput of 7 million tons.
The port of Bushehr can provide all containerized cargo services and, most significantly, refrigerated products.
The port has 400 reefer plugs and cold-storage warehouses with a total capacity of 5,000 tons and has easy access to local markets and is a short distance from ports in neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, Maersk said.
The first direct weekly feeder sailing from the port of Jebel Ali in the UAE to Bushehr, the 3,400-TEU containership Inter Sydney, was launched on January 4.
When Maersk first resumed service to Iran, the company said the market was estimated at about 700,000 forty-foot-equivalent units.
Iran’s largest trading partners in first 11 months of 2016 by value were China, the UAE, South Korea, Turkey and Germany, according to Global Trade Atlas, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS Markit.
China and the UAE were by far the largest trading partners with Iran, amounting to 24.3% and 15.9%, respectively, of Iran’s international trade volumes, according to GTA. South Korea accounted for 8.1%, Turkey was 6.9% and Germany 5.5%.
Maersk’s 2M partner Mediterranean Shipping Company resumed full service to Iran much earlier than the Danish carrier, with a ship with a capacity of 9,000 TEU units calling at Bandar Abbas on Dec. 31, 2015.
MSC partially resumed service to Iran in April 2014, employing a third-party feeder service that enabled cargo to be transshipped at Jebel Ali.
Container lines, not just Maersk, have been struggling since the 2010 financial crisis, when the GDP multiplier, which refers to the rate of growth in container shipping as it relates to global GDP growth, evaporated.
The multiplier from 2000 to 2008 was 2.2x with x being global GDP growth, which had averaged around 4%. The multiplier since 2010 has shrunk to 1.1x while GDP growth fell to an average of 2.9%. That slower rate of growth dovetailed with a surge of mega-ship newbuilds that have created an enormous capacity surplus
Given these difficult conditions, other container lines have also looked to Iran for volume growth. CMA CGM, for example, teamed up with IRISL to share vessel capacity and jointly operate routes and marine container terminals.