Serious ice conditions in Northern China ports

Owing to the recent low temperatures in Northern China since the end of December 2020, the ice condition in Bohai and Huanghai sea area has been developing quickly.

UK Club correspondents Oasis P&I noted that in Liaodong Bay the ice along the coast had extended by 30 miles, to 40 miles from shore, within a short period. According to the current forecast the ice condition will develop further over the next few days, with floating ice reaching 50 miles in Liaodong Bay, 10 to 15 miles in Bohai Bay and Laizhou Bay, and 10 to 20 miles in north Huanghai Sea.

Sea Area Floating Ice Range from Shore (mile) General Ice Thickness (cm) Maximum Ice Thickness (cm)
Liaodong Bay 45-55 10-20 30
Bohai Bay 10-20 5-15 20
Laizhou Bay 10-20 5-15 15
North Huanghai Sea 10-20 10-20 25

China’s coldest winter in decades meant that state-owned energy company Sinopec was unable to unload heating fuel from a vessel because a thick sheet of ice was blocking access.

With the help of an icebreaker ship and a cannon loaded with hot water, workers spent 20 hours clearing a pathway for the tanker to dock and discharge its cargo of liquefied natural gas in Tianjin.

A La Nina weather phenomenon has sent a wave of cold air across North Asia this winter. Beijing last week recorded its lowest temperature since 1966, while Seoul had its coldest day since 1986. Record snowfall had fallen inland from Japan’s west coast.

Japan, China and South Korea are the world’s biggest LNG importers. The extra demand has pushed prices for spot cargoes and tankers carrying the fuel to record levels.

However, Jenny Yang, a senior director at IHS Markit Ltd. in Beijing told Bloomberg that the cold winter was not the only reason contributing to the recent dramatic spot price spikes, which were probably due to a combination of supply, demand, and shipping factors in a relatively thin and illiquid market.

Sub-freezing temperatures and disruptive winds are expected for the rest of the week in Northeast China, according to the country’s meteorological agency.—ice-condition-in-northern-chinese-ports.pdf

See also London Club’s commentary: