Latest News

8 September

Ukraine to bypass Russia’s Black Sea grain blockade via Croatian ports

Ukraine will reportedly begin exporting grain via Croatian ports to skirt Russia’s ongoing blockade of the Black Sea ship routes.

The agreement, revealed by a senior Ukrainian official on 7 September according to Reuters, is said to offer Ukraine an alternative route for its globally important grain supplies.

Since Russia withdrew from the UN- and Turkey-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative on 17 July, Ukrainian port warehouses have faced an onslaught of aerial assaults from the Kremlin’s drones. The strategically key Odesa region has been heavily targeted alongside Ukraine’s Danube ports of Izmail and Reni.

The ongoing conflict has seen shipping companies withdraw entirely from the Black Sea corridor. Without insurance cover for Ukrainian grain shipments, this is unlikely to change – although Lloyds of London is currently engaged in talks with the UN over providing such cover should a new Black Sea deal be reached.

The cost of insuring ships in the Black Sea currently lies between 0.95% and 1% of hull values, inflated, but still not quite at the wild levels of April 2022 when insurers insisted on 5-10% of hull values.

4 September

Polaris Shipping offices raided in South Korea

The Seoul headquarters of Korean shipping company Polaris Shipping have been raided by local authorities over an alleged breach of trust by co-CEOs Kim Wan-Joong and Han Hee-Seung only a few months after the company was put up for sale. 

Investigations into the alleged crime are only the latest issues for the company after Kim was sentenced to six months in prison in 2020 for failing to report known defects aboard the Stellar Daisy before it sank in March 2017, though that case is currently in the middle of an appeal at the South Korean Supreme Court.

According to reports, the latest investigation covers the misappropriation of Won50bn ($37.8m) lent to Polaris’ holding company, Polar Energy & Marine, to secure the company’s management rights.

In addition to adding to Kim’s legal woes, the raid could also complicate the sale of the company, which was reportedly entertaining 20 different takeover bids, including China’s Cosco Shipping, at an estimation of around $425m. 

30 August

UK delays post-Brexit trade border changes for fifth time

The UK Government has announced another delay to the introduction of new post-Brexit border control rules, pushing the rollout of the changes back by a further three months, to early 2024. 

Despite being originally set to begin in 2021, the new controls on animal and plant products have been delayed five times, with the government claiming that the latest move was to provide stakeholders with even more time to prepare for the checks. 

The new Border Target Operating Model will see new paperwork requirements introduced in January 2024, new physical checks in April 2024, and new safety and security declarations for EU imports in October 2024.

The UK Government’s operating model is part of its 2025 Border Strategy, but has been adapted to make “smarter use of data and technology to ensure a more efficient trading experience for businesses,” according to the Cabinet Office. 

29 August

Maersk Supply Services announces restructuring plan and job losses

Maersk Supply Services, which split from AP Moller Maersk in May through an acquisition by AP Moller Holding, has announced it will restructure to focus on northern hemisphere operations.

The company did not put a timeline on the process, which it said is dependent on current ongoing contracts.

The operational restructuring, which will lead to 130 jobs being lost to redundancy over the next 24 months, will focus afresh on wind energy and turbine solutions, as Maersk Supply Services sees offshore wind as its most profitable avenue.

The company will relocate two vessels from Australia to the Atlantic Basin and the North Sea after its current projects have concluded.

Maersk Supply Services said it would reduce its global footprint and cease turn-key solution projects as the financial risk-reward balance no longer makes sense. 

11 July

Endesa faces $1.83bn in claims over LNG supply deal disputes

Spanish energy company Endesa is facing around $1.83bn (€1.66bn) in claims related to disputes over price reviews of liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply deals, reported Reuters.

While the cases had already been made public, the business revised the claim amounts in its first-half earnings report.

According to the Reuters report, the earlier claims amount was $1.41bn. The claim amount could change subject to market conditions until the arbitration is complete in the third quarter of 2023, it added.

In the second case, an LNG producer initiated arbitration against Endesa in March 2023 requesting a payment of around $557m, up from the earlier reported claim amount of $411m.

An Endesa representative declined to respond on the development and instead referred to the financial report’s comments.