The Taiwanese container line Evergreen Marine will add Vladivostok, to its Transpacific ‘TPS’ service. As of 20 July, all ships trading on the loop will perform weekly westbound calls at the Russian port.
The Vladivostok call is mainly added for bunkering purposes and it will allow Evergreen to take advantage of the lower bunker costs in Russia. Compared to most major ports in Europe, Asia and the Americas, fuel oil prices in the Russian Northeast presently offer a cost advantage of USD 80 to USD 130 per metric ton of HFO.
In spite of the extra call, the ‘TPS’ will continue to turn in six weeks with six vessels in the size range from 6,332 to 7,024 teu. The service calls at: Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Los Angeles, Oakland, Tacoma, Vladivostok (new), Kaohsiung, Yantian (Shenzhen), Hong Kong.
Evergreen’s decision to add Vladivostok follows a number of similarly ‘bunker driven’ moves of the recent past:
- Newbuildings (EEE, CAP SAN NICOLAS) are being sent to Vladivostok or Vostochny right after delivery from Korean yards before the ships enter service.
- Local Busan – Russia shuttles (Maersk Line, Hyundai) are consolidated into wider intra-Asia loops to allow more ships to regularly bunker in Russia.
- Northeast Russian ports are added to Transpacific mainline loops.
On an interesting side-note, the increasing disparity in local bunker prices has even prompted some shipping lines to modify the design of containership newbuildings and have the ships fitted with larger fuel oil tanks. This gives carriers more flexibility in the decision-making when and where to take bunker.