Date: Friday, June 18th, 2021
Source: Lloyd's List
THE number of sailings being blanked due to the congestion in southern China’s major ports has shot up as the number of ships at anchor awaiting berths remains high.
Figures from Lloyd’s List Intelligence show 90 boxships comprising 484,208 teu in the anchorages nearby Hong Kong as the disruption at Yantian spreads to the nearby hubs Nansha and Shekou.
The number has fallen from its peak of 104 ships comprising 611,966 teu on June 14.
Some 90 containerships over 10,000 dwt with a total capacity of 484,208 teu are at anchor off southern China as of 0900 hrs June 17, BST, according to Lloyd’s List using data compiled from Lloyd’s List Intelligence. Even though delays are seen easing at Yantian port after a Covid-19 outbreak earlier this month, congestion is cascading.
Congestion in Shekou and Nansha is improving as both ports have taken measures to control the traffic. Shekou has reduced vessel ETA to three days for export containers. Nansha has limited the daily number of truck gate-ins to 5,000.
Yantian, meanwhile, has been omitted by carriers in recent weeks so fewer boxes have returned from the ships
Nansha has been overwhelmed by the shift of cargo flows from Yantian and Shekou, reaching 300% of its normal capacity. So, while import volumes are relatively unaffected, it has shipped out a lot more containers than usual. While Nansha is significantly smaller than Yantian and therefore less likely to cause wider supply chain issues in the event of an outbreak, strict measures to control infections have contributed to the logjam.
Part of the reason for the decline is vessels now being instructed to omit the ports altogether.
Figures from project44 show that 298 containerships with a combined capacity of over 3m teu that were due at Yantian between June 1-15 had skipped the port, representing a 300% increase in the usual number of blankings in a month.
“Though the total capacity was not meant for Yantian International Container Terminal, the volume of loaded export containers that were left behind has caused a severe backlog and is due to create major delays and disruptions in global supply chains shortly after the Suez Canal incident,” project44 said.
The number of scheduled blank sailings announced by major carriers remains elevated through to next week, before tailing off, but that assumes Chinese authorities are able to contain the virus, and allow carriers to return to normal operations.
“Even in this best-case scenario, it could take weeks to process backlogged containers, and shippers should expect serious delays,” project44 said.
Container dwell times at the port also remain elevated, with the seven-day average of median dwell times for export containers doubling to over 23 days.
“While the epicentre of this particular breakdown is YICT, these numbers spell trouble across the maritime shipping world, and particularly for companies that rely on these routes,” said project44 vice-president Josh Brazil.
“Even shipments not directly impacted by the Yantian situation could feel the impact, as carriers adjust their networks to avoid congestion at YICT.”
Lloyd’s List Intelligence figures show that congestion has already spread to Nansha, and that many of the ships at anchor now have Hong Kong as their next destination.