Drewry sees ports and terminal rationalisation best way going forward
PORT and terminal rationalistion is the "only long-term answer" to deal with the effects of fewer mega ship calls that bring bigger box exchanges, says London's Drewry Maritime Research.
Drewry senior analyst Neil Davidson said more M&A activity, "both operationally and financially", was needed among ports and terminals to match that of its shipping line customers, reports London's Loadstar.
In Drewry's Terminal Operators Annual Review, Mr Davidson said disruption at container terminals since the introduction of mega ships was "starting to level off", and he thought the "ceiling" had been reached on the size of newbuilds at around 20,000 TEU.
"Ship sizes are not going up in leaps and bounds as before," he said, given that the extra port costs were beginning to negate the unit cost reduction of the larger vessels.
But Mr Davidson worried about the unrelenting cascading of displaced tonnage since the advent of ultra large container vessels (ULCV), with bigger and bigger ships being deployed in smaller trades using terminals ill-equipped to handle them.
Commented one APMT man: "These larger vessels and larger alliances create pressure on port space and productivity at a time when few port operators are prepared to invest hundreds of millions in new ports and port upgrades."