Supply chain logistics continue to cause problems

Container shipping and land transport firm AP Moller-Maersk has warned its customers that there continued to be difficulties with the moving of goods around the world. It said that the easing of congestion was taking longer than the Danish company had hoped.

Various factors related to the global pandemic caused a misallocation of containers and a slowing of shipping times, plus a shift of consumer spending from holidays to goods, saw the price of container transport soaring for exporters and importers. Queues of ships outside major ports lengthened, particularly in the US, exacerbating the shortage of available slots on vessels.

“Unfortunately, 2022 has not started off as we had hoped,” Maersk said in an advisory, noting that “the pandemic is still going strong and unfortunately, we are seeing new outbreaks impacting our ability to move your cargo”. It expected the constrains to continue “for some time still”.

As of this week the yard density at Bremerhaven was more than 130%. Ships were having to wait seven to 10 days to berth at Felixstowe in the UK.

However, Maersk noted that there had been some recent easing in Northern Europe. Antwerp in Belgium was expected to reduce the wait to around two days this week. It had been at 10 days the week before.

Yard density at Prince Rupert in Canada was reported to be at more than 110%. Delays at US ports were sometimes exceeding 30 days.

Maersk said that vessel calls and departures out of Ningbo in China were running normally, despite the Covid-19 restrictions, but land transport in and out of Ningbo remained problematic, said Maersk, noting that there had been a partial lockdown of the city.

Analysts at Sea-Intelligence said in its latest weekly report that “all the available data shows that congestion and bottleneck problems are worsening getting into 2022, and there is no indication of improvements as of yet”.

Maersk said that, in a fast-evolving global situation, it was “working closely with all respective port authorities and coordinating with all involved parts in the local supply chain to help alleviate the situation. That could include slowing down the sea transit for minimal queuing, opening substitute container depots or moving more cargo via alternative modes”.