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Daily Briefing January 7 2020

Free to read: Four killed in attack near Nigeria coast | US-Iran tensions spark return of Hormuz naval escorts for UK-flagged ships | Grains trades at risk from US-Iran conflict

Good morning. Here’s our quick view of everything you need to know today.

The Lloyd’s List Daily Briefing is brought to you by the Lloyd’s List News Desk.

What to watch   |   Analysis   |   Opinion   |   Markets   |   In other news




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What to watch


Four military personnel were killed and two others injured in a crossfire as three crew were taken following an attack on a Nigeria-flagged trailing suction hopper dredger, Ambika (IMO: 7931026) near the Forcados terminal in Nigeria.

The spread between very low sulphur fuel oil and high-sulphur bunker has gone up significantly over the past three months, and may lead carriers to impose higher bunker surcharges if the trend continues, according to box shipping consultancy Sea-Intelligence.

UK-flagged ships will again be accompanied by British naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement over the weekend, reflecting escalating tension in the Middle East Gulf.


Analysis


The American airstrike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, a top-ranking Iranian general has sent ripples of uncertainty through the tanker market. In the short term, freight rates are likely to get a boost but disruption could be negative in the longer term.

Box carriers will be hoping significant recent increases in spot freight rates continue as carriers look to recoup higher bunker costs to comply with the new sulphur cap rules.


Opinion


The US has announced the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman and its accompanying strike group in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Middle East Gulf, writes Eric Watkins.

Italian ports could see the end of tax exemption in 2020 following the launch of an investigation by the European Union, writes Antonella Teodoro.



Markets


War risk premiums charged by both Lloyd’s underwriters and marine mutual have so far remained broadly unmoved by the turmoil in the Middle East sparked by the US killing of an Iranian general last week.

Grains trades may be at risk from escalating tensions between the US and Iran following the US killing of Iran's top military official in a drone strike late last week.


In other news


Tests run on several compliant fuel oil blends supplied out of the Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam region have found compounds associated with Estonian shale oil, heightening risks of ship engine failures arising from burning these fuel blends.

The senior managers of the three main Japanese lines released their traditional new year’s messages with a theme squarely centred on sustainability and business innovation.

A South Korea-flagged large dry bulker has been found by the Chinese authorities to have been burning non-compliant fuel after the 2020 sulphur cap formally took effect on January 1.

Alistair Baillie, president of Terminal Investment Ltd, the global ports operator in which Mediterranean Shipping Co has a majority shareholding, has stepped down.

The Suez Canal Authority has frozen transit tolls at 2019 prices for the 2020 calendar year for all but two classes of vessels as it faces “unfavourable conditions” in the global economy and international trade.

China’s state-run Unipec, the oil trading arm of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, once again tops the rankings of global charterers taking ships in the spot market for crude oil tankers, accounting for 17% of total dirty spot market fixtures in 2019, according to data from brokerage and consultancy Poten & Partners.

Norden, a Danish owner of bulkers and tankers, continues to optimise its fleet and as such has been active in the sales and purchase market.

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