Global container port utilisation rates – stretched thin this year – are set to remain tight through to 2025, a new report from British consultants Drewry suggests.

Drewry’s latest Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review and Forecast report predicts global container port capacity will increase by an average 2.5% per year to reach 1.3bn teu in 2025. With global demand set to rise by an average 5% per annum over the same period, average utilisation rates will increase from the current 67% to over 75%, Drewry forecasts.

“While 75% utilisation at a port or terminal level is not sufficiently high to be of major concern, at a global level this expectation of tightening port capacity in a market plagued by congestion due to supply chain imbalances is a cause for concern,” the report cautioned.

Eleanor Hadland, author of the report and Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals, said: “The strength of the recovery in demand, aided by high levels of liquidity in the financial market, have enabled operators to bring forward their investment plans, resulting in a stronger capacity outlook post-pandemic.”

The majority of the forecast additional capacity will be delivered at existing terminals, with greenfield projects still remaining a low priority for most global operators. There are fewer greenfield automation projects in the pipeline, but retrofitting of existing terminals is on the rise.

The report also ranks the world’s top global terminal operators with Singapore’s PSA International still at the top of the podium.

China Merchants Ports moved up to second place in the Drewry rankings in 2020, following a 13.4% increase in equity-adjusted volumes. Volume growth was derived from the company’s shareholdings in other operators – Terminal Link, the CMA CGM / China Merchants JV, acquired eight terminals last year from CMA Terminals which provided a major boost, together with increased contribution from Liaoning Port Group and Ningbo Zhoushan Port Company.

Source: Splash247