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Bulk port congestion hits record high

Photo: CSSC Newcastlemax bulker newbuilding built by CSSC
The early months of 2022 have shown no improvement to supply chain disruption, with Clarksons Research cross-segment Deep Sea Cargo Vessel Port Congestion Index up to 31.5% in the year so far, compared with an average 30.8% in 2021.

Indonesia’s coal export ban, which came into force at the beginning of January, led to a rapid increase in the number of delayed bulk carriers, mostly panamax and handymax units, the firm noted in its most recent market report.

Its BulkCarrier (cape/panamax) Port Congestion Index hit a new high of 36.3% in the third week of February and is averaging 35% in the year to date, up from 32.8% over 2021.

Clarkson describes container port congestion, meanwhile, as remaining ‘acute’. Continuing disruption on the US east coast has been supplemented by local Covid-related lockdowns in China and knock-on effects from the war in Ukraine. The seven-day moving average Containership Port Congestion Index rose to 35.2% on March 16, up from 33.7% on a month earlier.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict could amplify shipping ‘inefficiencies’, Clarkson noted. “Reluctance by some owners to commit to Russian ports and cargoes has already led to regional freight spikes … and changing trade patterns may drive vessel repositioning (absorbing capacity) and increase the average haul,” the firm said.   

Graph: Clarksons Researchclarksons_port_congestion.png

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