Ports expected to be at center of container shipping strategy
Ports are set to dominate container shipping strategy with the focus on terminal productivity and capacity expansion, industry analysts said at the JOC Group’s Port Performance Conference Europe in London.
“Ports are coming back to the center, as they strive to keep pace with the growth in ocean container volumes, Trevor Crowe, director of Clarkson Research Services.
A modest base case annual growth rate of 5 percent through 2024 will increase the number of container “lifts” by the world’s ports to 1.15 billion from an estimated 692 million this year, Crowe said. An 8 percent annual growth rate would lift the number of lifts to 1.32 billion.
The ports industry, which has “under invested “ in response to the slowdown in container volume growth following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, must meet the increased demand either by adding capacity or boosting productivity, Crowe said.
Ports on the North-South trades are facing “ the most dramatic change” with the deployment of larger container vessels, Neil Davidson, senior ports and terminals analyst at Drewry Shipping Consultants, told conference attendees The size of ships on the North-South trades has increased by between 120 percent and 160 percent, compared with 70 percent on the Asia-Europe route and around 30 percent on the Transatlantic.
“Ship sizes have outpaced trade growth,” he said.
Most of the 104 vessels of 8,000-10,000 TEUs on order will be deployed on North-South routes led by the East and West coast South America trades, which are “really feeling the heat,” Davidson said. Some of these larger vessels will move onto the Asia-Middle East lanes and "and some on the transatlantic even,” Davidson said.
While carriers increase ship sizes to lower unit costs only the most efficient companies are turning a profit, while terminal operators have enjoyed stable healthy returns over the past five years, Charles Moret, a partner, at Container Transport International Consultancy noted.