Ports see little upside, more problems from alliances

Ports having to deal with mega-vessels potentially have to face all the challenges but with little of the upside from any increase in call size.

In addition, the alliances will also present challenges for multi-operator split ports, noted Arcadis Asia head of transportation and logistics Jonathan Beard at the TPM Asia Conference.

"The alliances will make our interchanges not only bigger but also more complicated, so our inter-terminal transfers will become more and more complicated," he said.

This means challenges for split ports such as Busan and Shanghai as well as multi-operator ports such as Hong Kong when compared to single operator, single terminal ports such as Jebel Ali and Singapore will be when all the facilities are completely moved to Tuas, Beard added.

"Consolidation of the shipping lines has a big impact on the terminals as they become bigger and control more volumes," said HPH Trust ceo Gerry Yim, adding that all alliance partners naturally have to be accommodated, along with the complexities that brings.

"The problem for us is not so much the alliances but the megavessels," he said as he concurred with Beard that on a call size basis numbers have not risen.

Yim gave the example of HPH Trust's terminals in Yantian where half of the volumes come from mega-vessels, the difference in call volume on average is only 6% more for the behemonths, despite the much increased complexity in dealing with them.

Posted 11 October 2017

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Vincent Wee

Hong Kong and SE Asia Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime News