As this blighted year nears its end, three maritime journalists were asked to assess the industry as it enters a critical period in history. Change is afoot and 2021 is likely to herald a new beginning for some, writes Nick Savvides, managing editor at Container News.

As shipping lines have seen their fortunes made after a period of severe decline in volumes during the pandemic, ports and terminals have not fared so well in Europe’s key region, of the Hamburg – Le Havre range where volumes have declined by more than a third in some cases.

The American multinational retail corporation, Walmart has started construction on its more than 900,000m2 Walmart Ridgeville Import Distribution Center in Dorchester County, South Carolina.

Walmart is investing US$220 million to build the direct import distribution centre, which is expected to increase volumes at the Port of Charleston by 5%, according to a statement.

The Port of Gothenburg has launched an "Empty Container Initiative" campaign in order to support container storage during the holiday season, from December lasting through to January.

The major Swedish box port is suffering a deficit of empty boxes for export cargo, while at the same time Purchasing Managers Index (PMI*) account that Swedish exports are booming.

One Apus shipowner, Chidori Ship Holding, has offered a revised estimate of the container losses after the ship was hit by a storm last Monday.

Some 1,816 containers and their cargoes are estimated to have been lost, either overboard or through damage, from the vessel and that of these boxes 64 were carrying dangerous goods.

Covid-19 pandemic continues to challenge the container shipping industry, forcing shipping lines to implement several blank sailings and rotation changes across the world.

Maersk Line has announced seasonal adjustments in December for its Asia to North Europe services, due to market demand volatility and operational challenges caused by the virus crisis, including congestion across global supply chains.

Gemalink International Port (GIP), Vietnam’s largest deep-sea terminal, is on track to open in the first quarter of 2021, after receiving its last pair of ship-to-shore container cranes.

GIP is a new container terminal being built in Vietnam’s Cai Mep port, at an investment cost of US$120 million.

A crew member of Hapag-Lloyd's container ship Nordic Hong Kong has tested positive for Covid-19 in Brazil. As a result, the Brazilian health authority has instructed the 3,400TEU vessel to perform a 14-day quarantine.

Tapping into the South American fruit harvest season, Wan Hai Lines has adjusted its Asia-South America (ASA) service to include a call at Peru’s Paitas port.

The Taiwanese liner operator, known more as an intra-Asia specialist, is allocating more reefers to the ASA service to meet strong customer demand.

Fuel market sentiment has received a boost from signs of improving demand from Asia’s large crude oil importers, as well as news of successful Covid-19 vaccine trials that may help contain the global pandemic and revive oil and fuel demand, according to the Marine Bunker Exchange (MABUX).