Robbert van Trooijen, Senior Vice President – Head of Latin America,

A.P. Moller – Maersk

"We are currently in a situation where there are not enough shipping vessels to meet demand, the global shipping fleet is fully deployed, and new builds are only going to come out of the yards in late 2022 or early 2023."

Can you introduce Maersk and describe the range of services does the company offers to the chemical and petrochemical industries?

A.P Moller – Maersk is a Danish conglomerate that used to be very active in the oil and gas, exploration, and drilling fields, but is now primarily active in container shipping and logistics. We have a global footprint and are currently the largest ocean shipping company in the world. As a logistics company, we also operate warehouses and run supply chains, with a network of offices, warehouses and rail connections around the world. We place emphasis on being close to our customers and their operations, and thus Maersk has a physical presence throughout all of Latin America, including trucking operations across the region.

Maersk is focused on building resilience in chemical supply chains, and can fully support the industry’s logistics requirements which can be anything from pure ocean transport services for customers who run their own supply chain, or advanced control tower solutions where we actively manage supply chains for our customers, offering insights and helping with decisions that make their supply chains more efficient. We also do anything in between such as warehousing and distribution, storage, land transportation and customized brokerage.

Which factors are contributing to global supply chain disruptions and rising logistics costs in 2021?

On the supply side, the industry has not invested significantly into expanding capacity, and this is many times the case when you have an economy that is not performing well. Over the past few years, new building orders for ships were at a historical low.

We are currently in a situation where there are not enough shipping vessels to meet demand, the global shipping fleet is fully deployed, and new builds are only going to come out of the yards in late 2022 or early 2023. Rates are currently at high levels, but the vast majority of Maersk’s customers are on long term contracts with us, including the petrochemical sector. Our aim is to provide stability to long term customers and ensure that whatever supply we can give them is at a more solid rate. Prices are still driven by supply and demand, and even long term customers are now paying different rates than they have in the past, but not the exorbitant rates which you read about in the papers.

What is the company’s approach to innovation and R&D?

Maersk’s R&D efforts have been focused on supply chain visibility for some time, but this has been accelerated by the onset of the pandemic. Historically, from a procurement perspective, it was best to leverage as many suppliers as you could in different segments of your supply chain, as this is how you got the best deals. From a visibility perspective, this means you have to keep track of many entities to get a coherent picture of your supply chain. With different players in the supply chain sometimes giving conflicting and inconsistent information, it can be a struggle to reconcile a reliable view, which leads to fragmentation. Maersk aims to be a one-stop-shop for customers, offering digital tools which give end-to-end supply chain visibility.

In 2021, we launched NeoNav, a 4PL supply chain solution designed to integrate a wide range of information from various sources, including platforms, players, digital and physical worlds. This product not only allows for full visibility, but we use AI to mimic scenarios and solutions to give customers better control and decision-making ability over their supply chain.

Can you explain how Maersk is positioning itself in the transition towards a net-zero economy?

Our main answer to reduce our footprint is economy of scale. Firstly, we built more fuel efficient, bigger vessels that have less of a carbon footprint per unit than the smaller ones we used to operate. Secondly, we slowed our vessels down, as a fast vessel has a significantly higher footprint than a slower vessel.

Moving towards a net-zero economy, we have to look at the type of fuel that we burn. Traditionally, ships use heavy fuel oil, which is not the cleanest. We are actively looking at alternative fuels and are currently building a vessel that runs on methanol. Maersk has made the promise that by 2050, it will be carbon-neutral.