Aerial view of the Port of Jebel Ali, the busiest port in the Middle-East
ID 168394024 © Alexey Novikov |

As ocean carriers scramble to match vessel supply with rapidly reduced demand for shipments, container shipping freight data aggregator Ocean Insights has offered its dynamic database of blank sailings free to shippers and forwarders.

“Our system is able to detect cancellations and blank sailings, and with the unusually high number of blank sailings, we have decided to help out the supply chain community and provide the entire blank sailing list free of charge,” it told The Loadstar.

Readers can sign up for the blank sailings list here.

Ocean Insights said there had been an unprecedented number of voided sailings since the middle of this month, despite factories in China resuming production and  its supply chain operators returning to work, counting 386 blank sailing announcements that will take place between mid-March and the end of April.

“Ocean carriers have responded by replacing large-volume vessels with smaller ships to adjust to the lower trade volumes. This is reflected in measured vessel capacity (in teu) across major carriers, which is especially strong in the Asian tradelanes with a 23% detected decrease from mid-January to mid-March,” it said

It noted that other trades had also begun to be affected by plummeting demand, although carriers had yet to pull as much capacity.

“In comparison, the global decline is less acute, with a 7% decrease from a peak of 16.8m teu capacity in mid-January to a low of 15.5m teu measured capacity,” it noted.

In theory, the lower volumes ought to be accompanied by higher port productivity, although the data has yet to confirm this, Ocean Insights told The Loadstar.

“We investigated average port call duration (time spent by a vessel in the port area), average transhipment duration (time between the arrival of a tracked container in port and its departure on another vessel) and rollover ratio (the percentage of containers that leave port on a different vessel than originally planned).

“We did not see a significant trend in any of these measures, said Ocen Insights. “We did see a huge drop in port-calls around Chinese new year, which we see every year, followed by an unusually slow upward trend there, consistent with the also observed lower volume of container traffic out of China/East Asia.”

Ocean Insights research, conducted prior to the coronavirus outbreak, has shown that there are certain ports where shippers and forwarders are more likely to experience container rollovers.

According to data shared with The Loadstar last month, some of the major global transhipment hubs have seen significant numbers of containers being rolled over: in Singapore, the rollover ratio of containers was 17%; in Dubai, it was 27%; and in Rotterdam, it edged over 30%.

For many UK shippers, the situation was even worse: Southampton had a rollover ratio of 24%; Felixstowe was 31%; and London Gateway just under 37%.

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