Spectre of European Container Port Congestion: Analysis

By George Backwell
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Schedule Reliability, Asia-Europe Services, Q1 2014 (% of calls on time): Image DMR

The North European ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg are experiencing significant congestion, an echo of the issues last seen around the world during the boom of the early/mid 2000s – before the global financial crash took over. The causes of the current congestion are numerous, but poor carrier schedule reliability is high on the list. Are these port congestion problems just temporary, or indicative of a new paradigm for the industry? Drewry Maritime Research considers possibilities in their latest 'Container Insight Weekly'.

The current congestion difficulties  of Rotterdam and Hamburg are partly because terminal capacity is being affected by work to upgrade existing facilities (such as installing new cranes at the ECT Delta terminal) and also because, in general, terminal capacity continues to be  strained by much greater peaks in volumes created by larger container ships.

However, another big factor causing problems for terminal operators is deteriorating carrier schedule reliability. If ships arrive ‘out of window’, then terminal operators may not have a berth available or the necessary number of cranes to handle their cargo efficiently.

Average reliability across all carriers in the Asia-Europe trade lane has declined from a high of 83% on time port calls in mid-2012 to just 51% in the first quarter of 2014, with on-time  arrival being defined as within 24h of the advertised date published before loading.

In Hamburg, the increased volume peaks caused by larger vessels, coupled with schedule reliability issues, have reportedly caused a doubling of average dwell times for export containers. There have also been delays in truck and rail handling. Truckin g companies have imposed a Traffic Congestion Surcharge, set at 40 Euro per transport within Hamburg city limits and 80 Euro per transport outside of Hamburg city limits. There is an intention to implement a truck booking appointment system in order to control and smooth out demand – not for the first time.

Carriers are also reacting. The G6 Alliance recently announced its intention to shift the German call of its Transatlantic‐Transpacific Pacific Atlantic 1 (PA1) pendulum from Hamburg to Bremerhaven due to congestion in Hamburg. Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, feeder operator Team Lines has announced that with delays of up to 48 hours being experienced at the ECT Delta terminal, and the possibility that this problem may last for several months, it may have to introduce a congestion surcharge or omit some calls. This follows earlier notifications relating to Hamburg. Unifeeder has also alluded to similar issues.

There are a number of reasons for the carriers’ recent schedule reliability issues, including bad weather. However, dysfunctional networks due to the implementation of new or extended alliance arrangements are also a key factor. The process of altering services, ships and partners appears to have had a significant adverse effect as carriers shuffle vessels in anticipation of new alliance and service structures. The geographical expansion of the G6 Alliance into the Transatlantic, and the addition of Evergreen to the CKYH Alliance between Asia and Europe are two cases in point.

In this respect, the huge variation in the reliability performance of individual carriers is highly significant. Figure 2 [displayed here] shows the wide range for Q1 2014 around a (low) average reliability across all carriers of just 50%.

For ports and terminals, the implication of widely differing carrier performance is highly significant. In Rotterdam for example, it is Hutchison’s multi-user ECT facilities which have the congestion issues, whereas the APM Terminals facility in the same port is not congested. At least in part, this must be a reflection of the fact that the majority of the traffic for APM Terminals is still from Maersk Line, the highest performer in terms of reliability. By contrast, ECT handles a much wider range of services for numerous carriers and alliances, and poor timekeeping by one carrier or alliance has a knock on effect for others in terms of terminal operations.

What is the outlook for congestion in the key Northern European ports? There is some good news. Rotterdam for example has two new deep sea terminals opening later this year, whilst in Germany, Wilhelmshaven remains an under-utilised asset.  The implementation of the now abandoned P3 Alliance would most likely have impacted the schedule reliability of its three members, but this is no longer an issue. However, the volume peaks caused by larger vessels are not going to go away, and further alliance developments seem likely, even if the P3 is not happening.

Many issues relating to long import dwell times also still have to be resolved. They may no longer have been important during the economic depression, but cargo growth is back, so they are on the front burner again.

Drewry’s View
Further congestion problems are likely to be seen in North European ports in the coming months as alliance developments affect schedule reliability. Longer term, much depends on what the steady-state reliability performance of the alliances ends up being.

Source: Drewry Maritime Research

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

RINA Launches Competence Management System Certification

International classification society RINA Services has launched a new Competence Management System certification which it says helps ship owners and managers to

Horizon Awarded for GORHEAD Software

Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc. of Bayou La Batre, Ala., has been presented with the 2015 “Innovator of the Year” award by the Mobile Alabama Chamber of Commerce for

Indonesia Ferry Hits Trouble, 97 Rescued

Almost 100 people were rescued when a ferry sailing towards Singapore from the Indonesian island of Batam hit a floating object and reportedly started to sink, authorities in the city-state said.


Indonesia Ferry Hits Trouble, 97 Rescued

Almost 100 people were rescued when a ferry sailing towards Singapore from the Indonesian island of Batam hit a floating object and reportedly started to sink, authorities in the city-state said.

DP World, SCA Pact for Ain Sokhna Port Development

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and the Red Sea Ports Authority signed an agreement with Dubai Ports World (DP World) and Sonker Bunkering Company for the development of Egypt’s Ain Sokhna seaport,

SCCT Prepares to Boost Vessel Traffic with 24-hour Access

A formal signing ceremony will now enable vessels to transit to Port Said East through a new side channel to be constructed bypassing the Suez Canal’s main entrance.

Container Ships

Euroseas Sells C/V Marinos

Euroseas Ltd.  an owner and operator of drybulk and container carrier vessels and provider of seaborne transportation for drybulk and containerized cargoes,

Groundbreaking Ceremony for Seaspan's Vancouver Office

Seaspan hosted a groundbreaking ceremony today to announce it has officially started construction on a new head office in North Vancouver. The 7,800 square metre (84,

SSA Welcomes Decision To Extend BEO

The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) has welcomed the decision by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry to extend the Competition (Block Exemption


Trucks Carrying Turkish Exports Blocked at Russian Border

Around 1,250 trucks carrying Turkish exports have been blocked from entering Russia and are stranded at border posts awaiting clearance, a senior shipping industry

Hoegh LNG Q3 Profits Disappoints

Oslo-listed Hoegh LNG, whose floating plants turn liquefied natural gas (LNG) into gas, reported on Monday third-quarter earnings below forecasts and offered a dividend of $0.

Torm Orders Four Tankers in $200 mln Deal

Danish shipping company Torm has signed an order for four fuel-efficient LR2 (long-range) product tanker vessels from Guangzhou Shipyard International in China for $200 million.


Seaspan Implements ECO Insight solution

Seaspan Ship Management Ltd. will implement the DNV GL fleet performance management solution ECO Insight to improve their fleet monitoring. ECO Insight will

Canada to Aid Developing Nations Fight Climate Change

Canada will provide aid to developing countries to combat climate change, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday ahead of talks on global warming,

Statoil Picks MacGregor Mooring Systems for Hywind

MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has won an order for substructure connection mooring systems for the world's first floating offshore wind farm: Statoil's Hywind pilot park in Scotland.

Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1725 sec (6 req/sec)