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94 ships waiting at LA/LB ports, dwell fee delayed again; freight rates steady

Total container ships backed up at the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports were at 94 on Monday, December 6, 2021, two fewer than last Friday, December 3, 2021.

94 ships waiting at LA/LB ports, dwell fee delayed again; freight rates steady
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December 7, 2021: Total container ships backed up at the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports were at 94 on Monday, December 6, 2021, two fewer than last Friday, December 3, 2021.

"The figure includes 35 container ships at anchor or loitering inside 40 miles from the ports of LA and LB plus 59 loitering or slow-speed-streaming outside the Safety and Air Quality Area," according to the daily update from Captain J. Kipling Louttit, executive director, Marine Exchange of Southern California & Vessel Traffic Service Los Angeles and Long Beach San Pedro.

As many as 36 vessels are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, which is one fewer than the "normal" level of 37 based on 2018/9 levels pre-COVID levels. "Of these arrivals, only 11 container ships are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, six fewer than the "normal" level of 17 based on 2018/9 pre-COVID levels."

The 34 container ships at anchor or loitering and awaiting orders for a berth include seven mega-container ships over 10K TEUs, two fewer than Friday. The mix is - three over 10K TEUs, one over 11K, two over 13K, and one over 14K. "Thus, 21 percent of the container ships are mega-container ships, lower than the 30 percent range we've seen in the past."

Container dwells at the LA port declined to 62,122 on December 6 from 63,564 on November 30. While containers dwelling 13+ days increased to 15,387 from 14,309, and for 0-4 days from 24,170 to 31,093.

(Source: Port of Los Angeles)

The ports of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles have delayed the consideration of the Container Dwell Fee till December 13.

"Since the fee was announced on October 25, the twin ports have seen a combined decline of 37 percent in aging cargo on the docks. The executive directors of both ports will reassess fee implementation after another week of monitoring data," an official statement said.

Container market demand to be stable
Container market demand and supply balance looks stable until at least mid-2022 and likely into full 2022, according to this report by IHS Markit.

"Although we believe container freight rates will still face correction and decrease by 30-40 percent in 2022 with reduced impact from COVID-19 including record high congestion in west U.S. ports in 2021, the container freight level will still be way above historical levels and remain high enough to employ a large number of general cargo vessels and part of geared bulkers including open hatch-box type in container sector commercially."

Freight rates to North America started off largely unchanged this month as shipping lines eyed mid-December and January for increases on import and export rates, respectively, S&P Global Platts said in an update.

"Chronic port congestion, frequent blank sailings and a growing equipment shortage in Asia all supported current rate levels while demand continued to strengthen ahead of the Lunar New Year in February."

While MSC has announced a $3,000/FEU General Rate Increase (GRI) on Asia-to-North America shipments w.e.f December 15, other carriers may implement a GRI of $300/FEU, on average, on the backhaul export route w.e.f January 1 although these hikes will have to be negotiated with shippers, S&P added.

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