The Panama and Suez canals could be the next institutions to be affected by the ongoing crisis in the container shipping industry, according to new analysis from Africa ports analyst and monitoring service portoverview.com
The twin factors of cellular overcapacity and rock-bottom bunker costs have, over the past year, led carriers to divert multiple sailings away from the world’s two principal trade arteries and reroute vessels around the southern African cape.
Its six-month report for the second half of 2015 quoted analysis from SeaIntel (portoverview.com co-owner), which showed that since the end of October 2015, 115 vessels deployed on Asia-USEC and Asia-North Europe services have made the back-haul trip to Asia by sailing round the Cape of Good Hope rather than through the canals despite using them on the headhaul legs.
Three of these vessels were deployed on Asia-North Europe services, while the remaining 112 were returning to Asia from the US east coast.
“Normally, 78 of those voyages would have gone through the Suez Canal, and as 53 of the voyages were in 2015, it would have meant that the number of container vessel passing the Suez Canal in 2015 would ‘only’ have decreased by 1.9% year-on-year, instead of the reported 2.8%. The other 37 vessels would normally have passed through the Panama Canal,” portoverview.com said.
“SeaIntel concludes that both the canals face a significant challenge in the current low bunker price, as it means that for many services it is cheaper to sail south of Africa on the backhaul than to use the canal routings,” it added.
“The canals have a particular disadvantage in regard to the USEC-Asia services, where it is currently economically viable for 14 out of 22 services to sail south of Africa on the backhaul, and it would probably be viable for almost all of them if intermediate port calls were dropped.”
It is even viable for sailings from North Europe to Asia to route via South Africa, “if the intermediate calls were dropped or switched to other services”, it said.
A fascinating addition to slow-steaming and super slow-steaming. HT Reddit.