Clarksons: Global port congestion reaches new highs

Written by Nick Blenkey
Containers at pierside

Picture credit: wolfgang59b/

Port congestion isn’t just a containerships and California problem, it’s a global issue across a range of shipping sections and has now reached new highs according to the latest Clarksons Port Congestion Index.

Discussing these recent trends, Steve Gordon, managing director of Clarksons Research, makes these points:

  • Disruption to global logistics and supply chains remains widespread, with port congestion a major contributor to the record freight rates in a number of shipping segments and to our ClarkSea Index, a cross shipping segment charter index for global shipping, reaching a twelve year high of $42,114/day so far in October.
  • Congestion trends at containership ports are most acute, with the Clarksons Containership Port Congestion Index (representing the level of fleet capacity globally in port or an associated anchorage each day) reaching a new high of 37.3% of containership fleet capacity on October 21 (on a 7 day moving average basis), compared to a pre-Covid-19 (2016-19) average of 31.4%.
  • Key congestion “hotspots” across the container network include China (where containership capacity at port totaled 2.6 million TEU on October 21 ,up more than 50% on the 2016-19 average of 1.7 million TEU) and the West Coast of the U.S. (where capacity at port totaled 0.87 million TEU on October 21, almost three times the 2016-19 average of 0.32 million TEU).
  • In the U.K., the level of containership capacity at port reached 0.22 million TEU on October 17 (7dma), up 50% on the average in the year to date, though this has since eased back to 0.15m TEU on October 21.
  • The level of bulk carrier capacity at port globally also reached a new record of 36.2% on 21st October (7 dma), up from an average of 32.6% in the year to date, and a ‘pre-Covid’ average across 2016-19 of 29.9%. This has contributed to the highest levels of freight for bulk commodities such as iron ore, coal and grain since 2008.
  • Port congestion related to car carriers also remains close to recent highs, with the level of car carrier capacity at port standing at 24.9% on October 21 (7dma), compared to a pre-Covid average (2016-19) of 22.7%.
  • Our overall cross segment Deep Sea Cargo Vessel* Port Congestion Index (again showing the level of fleet capacity globally at port or an associated anchorage each day) reached a new record high of 33.3% on October 21 (7dma), compared to a ‘pre-Covid’ average across 2016-19 of 29.7%.

*Deep Sea Cargo Vessels include oil tankers over 40,000 dwt, bulk carriers over 70,000 dwt, containerships over 3,000 TEU, liquefied petroleum gas carriers over 65,000 cu.m liquefied natural gas carriers over 40,000 cu.m, and car carriers over 6,000 vehicles.

The full report and further time series and analysis are available on Clarksons Shipping Intelligence Network.

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