The expansion of container and other commercial activities at ports around the world is reducing the availability of space for non-containerized operations, according to leading logistics executives. And the problem could get worse as container ships increase in size.
Grant Wattman, president and CEO of Agility Logistics project team, said capacity for breakbulk and general cargo operations is already being squeezed in many city ports because of the conversion of facilities to container or cruise operations, or use for non-port redevelopment.
“Additionally, urban sprawl and population growth in certain cities has placed additional demand on inland transport network to the ports, which has limited the ability to cater for large items of cargo,” he said.
The development of regional ports catering to capacity voids for specialist shipments has helped ease restrictions, but Wattman said for some key projects, “it has been necessary to build port infrastructure to cater for the demand of non-containerized traffic, notably in the oil and gas and mining industries.”
Per Thornblom, GAC Group project logistics manager, said that while there is adequate capacity for non-containerized operations at most ports currently, increasingly larger container ships could create problems in the future.
“Today, we see container ships with 18,000- to 20,000-TEU capacity,” he said. “In the future, they might carry 30,000 TEUs or more.
“Such vessels demand massive quay capacity, and terminals serving them must have the space on land for container storage. It will become more difficult to find suitable terminals for the handling of breakbulk and heavy-lifts.”
Thornblom said forward-thinking shipowners and operators dealing with project cargoes were well aware of these potential challenges for the future and already taking action. “Some are responding by investing in their own terminals, like Rickmers has already done,” he added.
Contact Mike King at Michael@borderline.eu.com.