The South Atlantic ocean is a division of the world’s ocean, basically lying south of the equator. The dividing line between the southern and northern oceans is in latitude 8°S at approximately 70°W longitude.
The Atlantic Divide
The main shipping lane for merchant vessels to cross the Atlantic Ocean goes through this area. It’s about 4,000 miles or 6,500 km long, passing through the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, dividing the Atlantic into two main navigable parts: Western and Eastern.
In the Eastern section, international ships have to pass the Doldrums and trade winds belt, a narrow region with light and variable wind. It covers a large part of the Atlantic between Africa and South America, where sailors have to wait sometimes several weeks for good weather conditions to cross it. On the contrary, there are no particular obstacles in the Western section because of its flat plain covered with water all over.
Where North Meets South
The two main shipping lanes towards the UK are Cape Town – Southampton (which is earmarked for future expansion) or Durban – Felixstowe (both depart from South African ports). Both routes cover almost 6,000 miles or 9,650 km (11−12 days).
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. It is a landmark famous worldwide as one of the five geographical points that divide the Earth’s surface into the four cardinal directions. Thus, the cape is sometimes regarded as the point of southern Africa.
The Cape Town – Southampton route has advantages over Durban – Felixstowe because it offers up to 10 return trips per week, but it hasn’t yet reached its full potential since there are still not enough ships for covering the whole distance.
The primary commodities shipped through the South Atlantic Ocean are oil, gas, grains and automotive parts. The U.S is the leading oil exporter to the UK, with almost one-fourth of all exports, while South America sends UK cereals.
The UK imports from Africa mainly fossil fuels. The total value of oil imported from Africa is about £3.3 billion and just over one-fifth the gas value.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is an underwater ridge that runs north and south between Iceland and southern Argentina through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; it separates the UK’s total fossil fuel imports. For example, gas imports from Africa to the UK have approximately £1.4 billion, just over one-tenth of all UK gas imports.
The UK also purchases metals and iron ores and concentrates, beverages, spirits, and vinegar, as well as aircraft and spacecraft.
The Crucial Halfway House
South Africa is also the biggest African exporter of oil to the UK. The country exported approximately £1,451 million worth of crude oil to the UK in 2016.
Due to its geographical position, South Africa mainly exports oil from Nigeria (often referred to as West African crudes), which accounted for roughly £1,047 million worth of oil to the UK.
This critical stop is on the doorstep of Ghana, where Seabird Ghana specializes in Maritime Logistics, Oil and Gas Services. Their team of experts is the best in all ship management and handling services.
In terms of UK exports, South Africa is one of the largest importers from the UK. In 2016 its value was about £3,860 million, which was a 10% increase from 2015.
The Cape Town – Southampton Shipping Lane Future
There is a lot of potential with the Southampton Shipping Lane route since, in South Africa, cars were the number one exported goods to the UK, then precious stones and metals and machinery and electrical appliances. The potential to develop this shipping lane to grow substantially over the next decade is a definite possibility with professional ship management services in Cape Town, Ghana, and the United Kingdom. Let’s hope it’s sooner!