An outbreak of Covid-19 has caused vessel delays at Shenzhen port’s Yantian terminal – and congestion is likely to get worse with other ports affected
Vessel delays at China’s Yantian Port (YICT), a deepwater port in Shenzhen, have been worsening over the last week and the port is expected to remain congested throughout the month, based on visibility platform project44’s container dwell time data.
The congestion at Yantian is due to tight controls over a detected Covid-19 outbreak on 25 May among port workers, resulting in container liners sending out client advisories on blank sailings.
By 7 June, project44 found that minimum dwell times at YICT as a port of loading was one day, while median dwell times were at most 18 days. While minimum dwell times at YICT as the port of discharge was also a day, median dwell times were far higher at 18 days.
The Covid-19 outbreak continues to spread as authorities in Guangzhou, the industrial city northwest of Shenzhen, have also imposed restrictions on business activity. Nansha Port, one of the fastest-growing terminals in Guangzhou, will also feel the impact of these restrictions, further increasing congestion issues in Yantian.
Port congestion in the South China Sea surrounding Yantian has been severe, said project44. As of 7 June, 47 vessels were approaching the port with upcoming ETAs of which 22 vessels have ETAs already in the past. With roughly 32% of all vessels approaching Yantian delayed, the congestion is expected to exacerbate over the next few weeks. Several container lines have said they are rerouting their vessels away from the Shenzhen port cluster to preserve their schedule reliability.
“The recent rise in Covid-19 cases in China has resulted in a shutdown that may add to the already record cost of shipping goods out of China. The delays have already resulted in pressurising soaring shipping prices within China due to a lack of containers and increased export demand. These high shipping costs are just one factor that may contribute to an additional looming threat of global inflation,” said project44 vice president of marketing Josh Brazil.
Project44 said the obstruction will mean additional blank sailings in June from Yantian to Hong Kong and to the US west coast. Container capacity may reduce by roughly 50% from the port, and there could be restrictions on the carriers allowed to release premium shipping containers. For Asia-Europe trade lanes, carriers have announced blank sailings from northern ports such as Tianjin and Quindao, citing congestion issues.
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