Industry News

Bypass! Congestion! Price increase! Pressure on African ports doubles


Recently, due to the continued escalation of tensions in the Red Sea, many international shipping companies have chosen to avoid traditional Red Sea routes and instead bypass Africa. This has put many African ports under increasing pressure.

Traders and industry sources said that demand for marine fuel has increased in ports such as Port Louis in Mauritius, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands and South Africa, with significant sales in Cape Town and Durban increase.

Since the Red Sea crisis began in mid-November, the price of low-sulphur fuel delivered in Cape Town has risen 15% to nearly $800 a ton, according to data from fuel supplier Integr8 Fuels. Some ships on the Asia-Europe route even need to refuel in Singapore in advance as a precaution.

At the same time, congestion has occurred in some ports as many African port infrastructures are unable to meet the sudden increase in shipping demand.

At the Port of Colombo, a key port connecting Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), the number of 20-foot containers (TEU) handled by the port in 2023 reached 6.94 million, an increase of 2% over the previous year.

Especially after the emergence of tensions in the Red Sea, the container throughput of the Port of Colombo increased sharply. In December, the number of containers handled by the Port of Colombo increased by 15% compared with a year ago.

"More and more shipping lines are using the Port of Colombo as a transshipment port, sometimes even transferring the entire cargo to other vessels," an official from the authority said.

The Port of Colombo usually handles about 5,000 to 5,500 containers per day, but since the end of last year, daily handling capacity has increased by about 1,000.

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