By Godwin Oritse
AP MÃ¸ller-Maerskâ€™s container shipping division made an operating loss of $1.8bn in 2009. A P M oller Terminal is Nigeriaâ€™s biggest private port operator while its sister company Maersk is also the biggest shipping firm operating the country.
The Danish shipping giantâ€™s container revenue declined from $28.6bn in 2008 to $20.6bn in 2009, while its operating loss of $1.8bn followed a profit of $969m in 2008.
It said: â€œThe container shipping segmentâ€™s result reflected the tough market conditions, with falling freight rates and volumes.
â€œFreight rates declined during the first half of 2009 to a level well below break-even point.Â As a result, the industry reduced its capacity in several ways: taking tonnage out of service, postponing delivery of new vessels and reducing speed.
â€œThese initiatives have buoyed spot rates, which rose in the second half of the year, but they need to rise further if the container shipping business is once again to be profitable.â€
Freight rates for the groupâ€™s container activities were 28% lower than in 2008.
Maersk said: â€œA 7-10% addition of tonnage is expected for the global container fleet. Cargo volumes are expected to rise by 3-5% on 2009 and freight rates are also expected to rise.
â€œThis will lead to a significant improvement in results, if the level of vessels taken out of service is sustained. However, rates are not expected to lead to an acceptable return in 2010.â€
Maerskâ€™s container division includes Maersk Line, Safmarine, intra-Asia carrier MCC, Container Inland Services and Damco Logistics.