“Encouraging signs of normalization” for Shanghai’s ports

On June 1, Shanghai started to lift travel restrictions and get people back to work. As a result, port operations appear to be going back to normal.

However, according to a report by The Maritime Executiveanalysts are still concerned about the ripple effect in the global supply chain and the challenge ports in Europe and North America will face as a consequence of the increase in volumes.

In an analysis of port performance from June 1, VesselsValue said that “congestion at the port is almost back to normal”, citing “many encouraging signs of normalization”. Their analysts observing waiting times for containerships and tankers declining by more than half in comparison to peak congestion in April.

At the height of reported Omicron cases, average waiting times stretched to 66 hours in late April,” reported VesselsValue. However, “waiting times have now shortened to 28 hours, just an hour longer than the top end of the range seen at this time of year over the past three years.”

Last week, Chinese officials stated that Shanghai, which normally handles nearly four million TEU a month, had a throughput of just over 3.4 million TEU in May. So, reduced volumes are likely to have caused some of the fall in waiting times.

Windward’s AI data shows that the number of port calls made by container vessels to Shanghai in May dropped 16 percent versus May 2021, down from 1,263 to 1,062 containership calls in May 2022

Furthermore, based on a snapshot of vessels waiting outside Shanghai on June 5, “the Shanghai area is far less congested (versus Ningbo), which is not surprising, given the relatively new development of the partial re-opening”, the maritime AI intelligence firm emphasizes.

On the other hand, despite the decline in the number of vessels and with the congestion for tankers back to normal and for bulkers, below average, VesselsValue suggested that waiting times for containerships are still slightly above the norm.

“Average waiting times for containerships, having peaked at 69 hours in late April, are now down to 31 hours, still some 4 hours longer than the higher end of the range seen for the time of year over the last three years.”

Moreover, Bloomberg’s Shanghai-based reporters that perceived truck availability has improved, with traffic into the city improving, meaning that reopened factories will be able to send their export goods to the port.

Windward concludes that “assuming that trucking capacity returns to normal, we can expect congestion to pick up significant during June, as factories are starved for raw material and a significant number of empty containers will need to be into the Shanghai area supply chain to cater to for further increases as the peak season sets in”.

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