$22B worth of cargo is now stuck on container ships off California

container ships

There was fleeting hope that Southern California port congestion had turned the corner. The number of container ships waiting offshore dipped to the low 60s and high 50s from a record high of 73 on Sept. 19, trans-Pacific spot rates plateaued, the Biden administration unveiled aspirations for 24/7 port ops, and electricity shortages curbed Chinese factory output.

The reality is that the port congestion crisis in Southern California is not getting any better.

The time ships are stuck waiting...


First containers, then dry bulk, now LNG shipping rates are spiking

LNG shipping

“I don’t remember a time when so many extreme events were happening in shipping,” said Stifel analyst Ben Nolan, who has been covering the sector for the past 16 years.

Container shipping led the charge, with rates soaring to stratospheric highs. Dry bulk shipping rates jumped next, to levels not seen in over a decade. Now liquefied natural gas shipping has joined the party. LNG rates “surged 40% in one day — Friday — on already high levels,” Nolan wrote in his weekly report.

Clarksons Platou...


Inflation alert: Container ship owners see boom through 2022

container shipping

Unprecedented demand for container ships will not end anytime soon, according to executives of companies that rent vessels to ocean carriers. Their overwhelming confidence is yet another ominous sign for beleaguered cargo shippers — and another signal that inflation could persist.

Managers of container-ship leasing companies (so-called tonnage providers) spoke during Capital Link’s New York Maritime Forum on Wednesday. Execs on panels are notorious for “talking their book” — product-tanker...


Container shipping’s ‘hockey stick’: Liner profits just keep on climbing

container shipping

A hockey-stick pattern starts with a low-level period — the blade — hits an inflection point, curves up, then heads sharply higher — the shaft. Newly released financial and operating reports for Q3 2021 by Matson (NYSE: MATX), Cosco and OOIL show container shipping in full-on hockey-stick mode.

Winners and losers

Pandemic restrictions and fiscal stimulus created winners and losers. On the losing end: companies that depend on people congregating in close quarters for business or pleasure. Think...


China port congestion falls sharply, trans-Pacific shipping rates retreat

container shipping

Trans-Pacific spot container rates have plateaued and in some cases pulled back, spurring speculation that container investors’ bull run has peaked and relief is on the way for U.S. importers.

The case for calling the top: Chinese container port congestion has dramatically declined over recent weeks, Chinese factories are being plagued by power outages that constrain export capacity, and U.S. consumer sentiment is faltering.

The counterargument: U.S. port congestion remains historically high,...


Yet another worry: Price of ship fuel is now highest since 2014

shipping fuel

Commodity prices are surging around the globe, so it should come as no surprise: Marine fuel is getting a lot more expensive. That’s bad news for ship operators’ bottom lines, and, in the container business, yet another headache for cargo shippers.

Marine bunker prices are “soaring,” said Alphatanker on Thursday. “This has not just impacted 3.5% [high-sulfur fuel oil or HSFO] but also 0.5% VLSFO [very low sulfur fuel oil].

“There are expectations that crude, and therefore marine fuel, could move...


OceanWaves: How to navigate the port congestion minefield

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ OceanWaves Summit.

TOPIC: Shipper strategies to counter congestion

DETAILS: A look at how importers can minimize import shipment delays and what the prospects are for future ocean freight pricing, given all-time-high anchorage levels. Also, how long could current peak conditions actually last?

SPEAKERS: Nerijus Poskus, vice president of global ocean, Flexport, and Greg Miller, senior editor, American Shipper and FreightWaves

BIO: Poskus leads long-term...


OceanWaves: Los Angeles port boss lays out congestion-fighting plan

container shipping

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ OceanWaves Summit.

TOPIC: Port perspective on managing import surge

DETAILS: Ocean carrier arrivals are surging, while the capacity of rail, trucking and warehousing is limited. How can the Port of Los Angeles dig out with a record number of ships waiting at anchor? And how long could this last?

SPEAKERS: Gene Seroka, executive director, Port of Los Angeles, and Greg Miller, senior editor, American Shipper and FreightWaves

BIO: Seroka interacts with a...


Freight economist to government: Stay out of ocean shipping mess

Cranes lifting containers off a vessel onto shuttle tractors.

Calls for the U.S. government to regulate the shipping industry in response to massive delays, insufficient vessel and container capacity, skyrocketing transport rates and terminal late fees are misguided because conditions are the result of overwhelming consumer demand and unusual supply volatility caused by COVID, a leading freight economist said Wednesday.

“You’ve got an industry in freight movement that grows at a 3% to 5% pace a year. All of a sudden you have this surge of 20% in volumes....


Ship at anchor off California ports may have caused major oil spill

container ships

Coincidence? Up to 144,000 gallons of oil is estimated to have spilled from a pipeline off scenic Huntington Beach, California, and within eyesight, an armada of commercial ships are stuck waiting at anchor or drifting. As of Tuesday, 88 ships in total, including 63 container vessels.

During a press conference Tuesday, members of the response team didn’t blame one of these ships for weighing anchor, dragging the pipeline and causing it to puncture. But there was little other way to interpret...


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