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Warning of soaring dwell times for export containers at ports globally

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Dwell times could be set to soar at ports global as vessel delays see export containers stuck on the dockside warn analysts project44.

The analyst is warning of a repetition of the situation seen at ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (LA/LB) at terminals around the world as exports back up with growing dwell times in Europe and the Middle East, although Asian gateway ports continue to perform well.

While LA/LB have been focused on getting long staying import containers out their terminals dwell times for export boxes have been growing.

According to data from project44, export containers at the Port of Los Angeles took an average of 11.85 days to be loaded on a ship between October 2021 and November 2021 while Port of Long Beach took an average of 10.98 days.

These numbers are roughly double the dwell time for import containers, with export containers stuck on the dock waiting for delayed vessel arrivals. However, export dwell times showed dramatic growth by the end of November standing at 17.49 days for the Port of LA and 15.16 days for Long Beach.


“If a carrier advises its customers to deliver export containers at a certain date and time based on the ETA/berthing schedule of the ship and that ship’s berthing is then delayed, then there will be a build-up of export containers waiting inside the port for the ship,” said Josh Brazil, VP of Data Insights at project44. 

“This appears to be what’s happening, based on the data we’re seeing. Export containers are subsequently waiting in ports for ships, which are taking longer than expected to arrive.”

Project44 now believes berthing delays are starting to impact container dwell times globally. Container shipping’s schedule reliability sits around just 34% according to fellow analyst Sea-Intelligence.

Looking at the key European port of Rotterdam project44 said it an average of 6.76 days export dwell time and 2.91 days import dwell time across 2021, while in the Middle East Jebel Ali had an average of 6.27 days export dwell time and 3.26 days across 2021. The Port of Rotterdam recently highlighted improving container line schedule reliability as a major factor in reducing global supply chain disruption.

But it is not all bad news with Singapore and Hong Kong showing “marked decreases” in container export dwell times according to project44. While for Chinese ports the gap dwell times for export and import containers have remained roughly constant.