More than 300 large dry cargo ships are waiting outside Chinese and Australian ports in a maritime traffic jam, reports Reuters, Some vessels have been waiting more than a month outside Australian ports to load coal and iron, leading to a jump in charter rates their highest levels in more than three years. Charterers of capesize ships were reportedly facing an extra $1m in costs per vessel, assuming a 45-day wait. The delays are not unusual during the peak demand winter season, as bad weather including fog and strong winds in China and infrastructure issues in Australia had been exacerbated by increased demand for vessels to satisfy China’s rediscovered love of commodities. For all of 2017 China is set to import 220.2mt of coal, up 10% YOY, while iron ore imports were set to reach 1.07bn tonnes up 6% year on year according to Clarksons.
Australian ports affected include Queensland export terminals at Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay, where there are 76 capesize and panamaxes waiting to load, according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon.
At Dalrymple Bay panamax Piavia arrived to load coal on November 4th, but loading only started on December 17th. Delays at Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay were caused by a combination of port maintenance and the ongoing impact and disruption caused by Cyclone Debbie in March, according to Ian Macfarlane, chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council.