Syrian uprising deals ocean shipping a major blow
Since the start of the 2011 Syrian uprising on January 26 earlier this year, the country’s economy has been dealt a heavy blow. The port city of Tartus, once an important ocean freight shipping hub in the Eastern Mediterranean, has seen its volume slip ever since the uprising began.
“At night, ship lights made Tartus extend into a city on the sea; now it’s like a small village,” one international shipper told Reuters. “The port’s sealine was full of vessels – now the berths are nearly empty.”
“We had 25 to 30 vessels daily arriving. This has dropped to between 10 and five daily,” another major shipping agent in Tartus said.
VIOLENCE IN SYRIA
Over six months have passed since the street protests began, as Syria’s citizens have demanded the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. In the meantime, Syria has failed to capitalize on its prime location as a Middle Eastern trading crossroads.
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Shipping sources in the region told Reuters that ocean freight volume has fallen by 35 to 40 percent through the first eight months of this year.
“Importers and exporters are being very cautious, and that has led to imports of raw materials falling sharply as production slows down in many industries due to the troubles,” one Syrian transportation official told Reuters.
Trade has dropped considerably between Syria and its Arab trading partners, who are growing concerned over the number of logistical challenges within the troubled nation.
According to Reuters, analysts had predicted that Syria’s GDP would grow by 3 percent this year. Thanks largely to the supply chain and logistics problems posed by the unrest in the port cities, GDP is expected to fall by several percentage points in 2011.
Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight
Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports.
A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers.
Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US.
The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two.
Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels
The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.
The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete.
Tesla’s supply chain woes
Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue.
Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely.
Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany