Tens of thousands of Hanjin containers stranded at ports

At a meeting of the Taiwan government’s transportation committee on Tuesday it was claimed that “50,000 containers carrying Taiwanese products were either stranded at sea or seized by port authorities” as a result of the collapse of Hanjin at the end of August.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Cheng Yu-peng demanded that the Taiwanese government seek compensation from South Korea on behalf of Taiwan’s shippers, noting that “some of the cargo owned by Taiwanese companies is still at Singapore or at seaports in other nations.”

The carrier’s containerships have now all been discharged, but this does not mean that the contents have been delivered to the ultimate recipients. In many cases they have either been seized by ports in lieu of fees owed, or have been abandoned by the shippers.

Some 500,000 teu, worth an estimated $12bn, was on more than 100 ships around the world when Hanjin filed for bankruptcy protection.

There could be tens of thousands of Hanjin containers at Singapore terminals, abandoned by shippers who are either unable or unwilling to pay the deposit and other charges required to release the boxes. Some shippers have abandoned the boxes because the associated charges are greater than the likely value of the contents.

Hanjin’s total indebtedness could be revealed on Friday, when Hanjin is scheduled to hold a meeting in Seoul to inform parties of the progress of its rehabilitation proceedings.

Meanwhile, Netherlands-based HSH Auctions has auctioned three Hanjin modern neo-panamaxes for a total of $392m in Rotterdam.

Finally, Korea Line’s owner SM Group has withdrawn its always unlikely bid for a stake in Long Beach terminal Pier T, of which Hanjin owns 54%, after struggling to raise funds for the bid , says news agency Yonhap, citing unnamed industry sources. Two bidders now remain, one a consortium involving Hyundai Merchant Marine and the other a consortium led by container shipping company MSC (which already owns the other 46%). The stake is thought to be worth approaching $350m. Pier-T can process more than 3m teus a year.