As many as 1.9 million TEUs of cargo are expected to be caught up in the supply chain congestion caused by the Suez Canal, which will soon affect many of the world’s largest container ports.
According to new data from supply chain visibility platform Project44, the recent blockage of the canal has caused a cumulative delay to shipping fleets of 1,072 days.
And larger ports are expected to bear the brunt of a short-term increase in vessel calls, as carriers attempt to recover services on schedule.
According to Project44 data, more than 370,000 teu of capacity is currently en route to the world’s largest transshipment hub, Singapore, adding to the 83 vessels – collectively equivalent to 299,310 teu – already in port, or at anchor and awaiting discharge, as of yesterday.
The picture is similar in Rotterdam, where 15 vessels, representing 196,600 teu, will arrive over the next week, creating a long queue behind the 85 vessels already in port or waiting to enter.
New York faces a backlog of 76,500 teu, which have arrived or continue to enter from the Suez Canal, Malaysia’s Klang Port has a backlog of 103,900 teu and Dubai faces 75,879 teu.
As ports try to clear this growing backlog, there will also be an impact on the reliability of liner schedules, as port delays measured in days are also increasing, with Project44 estimating that delays on the Shanghai-Rotterdam trade had risen to seven days, up from 2.79 days this time last year.
On the Shanghai-New York route, average delays in March rose to 8.05 days, up from 1.09 last year, while delays on the Shenzhen-Hamburg route increased to 9.23 days (3.52 in March 2020) and on the Shenzhen-New Jersey route, average delays have reached a chilling 12.92 days, up from 0.29 days in 2020.
And with this potentially unprecedented backlog of cargo at box terminals around the world, insurers have warned that it is likely to affect the entire container supply chain and increase the risk of freight crime, especially theft.
TT Club loss prevention director Mike Yarwood explained, “Beyond the delay to cargo on board affected vessels, there will inevitably be a knock-on impact for those involved in unloading containers at destination ports when they finally arrive, as well as for last mile carriers. As cargo begins to arrive, other potential risks arise.
“The risk of theft at ports and cargo warehouses in this scenario is higher and a greater focus on security is required. Whether it is simply in a holding area or surplus storage, or in a temporary warehouse, wherever and whenever cargo is not moving, it is more likely to be stolen.
“Those involved in the supply chain need to be aware of these security risks. Due diligence, carried out to ensure that any external storage provider has adequate resources to meet these demands, is a prudent measure to take in these circumstances,” he added.