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Imports take ‘dramatically longer’ to reach US as bottlenecks bite

Imports take ‘dramatically longer’ to reach US as bottlenecks bite

Indicators on trans-Pacific delivery time are all trending in the wrong direction

Planning to import goods from Asia by ocean and sell them in America this summer? Better act fast. The trans-Pacific cargo move can now take over three months. According to multiple sources, average transit times have risen to double pre-COVID levels — and they’re still increasing.

Methodologies and data sources differ, so time estimates vary. But each dataset shows the same trend: With every passing month, more vessels, container equipment and goods inventories are getting waylaid in the Pacific.


Flexport launched its weekly Ocean Timeliness Indicator (OTI) in early December. The OTI uses data from Flexport’s freight forwarding customers back to March 2019, measuring the time from the cargo-ready date at the exporters’ gate to the date when products leave the destination port (i.e., the landside transport time from the factory to the port in Asia, the Asian port wait, the ocean journey, and the North American port wait). The OTI is an average for loads from all Asian countries to all North American ports on any of the three coasts.

Flexport’s Asia-U.S. OTI reached an all-time high of 114 days last week. That’s 41 days or 57% higher than at the same time last year, and 63 days or 125% higher than at the same time in 2020, pre-COVID.

Chart: American Shipper based on data from Flexport

A shipment time is not included in the average until the import cargo leaves the U.S. port, meaning the indicator is retrospective. Goods included in the average in the first week of January might have left an Asian factory in early October, at a time when the queue of waiting ships off Los Angeles/Long Beach was around 40% smaller than it is now.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yet another worry: Price of ship fuel is now highest since 2014

Yet another worry: Price of ship fuel is now highest since 2014

Bunker surcharges on the rise for shippers of containerized cargo

Commodity prices are surging around the globe, so it should come as no surprise: Marine fuel is getting a lot more expensive. That’s bad news for ship operators on the cost side, and, in the container business, yet another headache for cargo shippers.

Marine bunker prices are “soaring,” said Alphatanker on Thursday. “This has not just impacted 3.5% [high-sulfur fuel oil or HSFO] but also 0.5% VLSFO [very low sulfur fuel oil].

“There are expectations that crude, and therefore marine fuel, could move higher in the coming weeks as oil markets tighten further,” warned Alphatanker, adding, “This will undoubtedly clip gains in tanker earnings.”

All ship categories, not just tankers, are taking a cost hit. On Thursday, the S&P Global Platts T4 index estimated that a Capesize (a dry bulk ship with capacity of around 180,000 deadweight tons) burning VLSFO was spending $24,596 per day on fuel.

Ships equipped with exhaust-gas scrubbers are still able to burn cheaper HSFO under IMO 2020, a regulation that went into force for all commercial ships on Jan. 1, 2020. According to the Platts’ T4 Thursday assessment, scrubber-equipped Capes were paying $22,815 per day for fuel.

Why pricing is up and where it’s going

“The main driver for bunker pricing is the price of oil — that’s the key,” said Martyn Lasek, managing director of Ship & Bunker, a company that provides pricing data. “If you look at the relationship between Brent and VLSFO, it’s now pretty solid. There’s an established price trend.”

American Shipper asked Richard Joswick, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global Platts, where the price of crude — and thus ship fuel — is going.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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