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The week in charts: Coronavirus impacts Yangtze River port calls, idle box shipping capacity

Fallout from the Coronavirus is evident in several charts this week, while Jefferies upgrades outlook for crude tanker earnings

The impact of the coronavirus on Yangtze river shipping movements has been revealed in figures from Lloyd’s List Intelligence that show a dramatic reduction in port calls

THE impact of the coronavirus on Yangtze river shipping movements has been revealed in figures from Lloyd’s List Intelligence that show a dramatic reduction in port calls.

While the figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations brought on by the Chinese New Year celebrations, they are able to show vessel calls at Yangtze river ports within 150 miles of Wuhan, the city in Hebei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated at the end of the past month.

The number of ship calls at the seven ports recorded fell to 225 this month from 446 in December.

The worst hit was Chenglingji, a major feedering hub to the south of Wuhan, which saw calls fall by more than 50%, with 177 fewer calls.


The outbreak of the virus is also beginning to be felt in the container sector, with reports of equipment build-ups in Shanghai and early indications of increased lay-ups.

A container availability index for Shanghai registered 0.58 for 40 ft high-cubes, 0.46 for 40 ft dry containers and 0.62 for 20 ft dry containers. Under the the index, operated by the repositioning service Container x-Change, a value over 0.5 indicates a surplus of containers.

A recent reduction in the idle fleet was expected to be reversed in the coming weeks, as a large number of blanked sailings are implemented from the end of January to coincide with the Chinese New Year holidays.

Weak demand over the holiday period had already seen several ships of 10,000 teu-20,000 teu that had recently completed scrubber installations sitting idle as they waited to be phased back in to service.

Figures from Lloyd’s List Intelligence put idle capacity in the global fleet this week at 758,198 teu, representing 3.4% of total capacity. That compared with 637,555, or 2.8%, a week ago.


Fewer shipments from Brazil and Australia, coupled with higher fuel bills have hit the Baltic Capesize Index, which dropped to an astonishing level of 1 point last week — the lowest ever.

The average weighted time charter on the Baltic Exchange reached $4,081 per day at the close on Thursday (January 30) far below its breakeven levels.

Lower than anticipated iron ore cargoes from the Atlantic as a result of unprecedented rains in the Minas Gerais state of Brazil and continued operational issues experienced by some producers has plagued the market, while cargo disruptions from Australia coupled with ample vessel availability also pushed rates down.


New York investment bank Jefferies has upgraded its estimates for crude tanker earnings in 2020, citing rising crude oil exports from the Atlantic Basin, geopolitical tensions and delayed scrubber retrofits.

It forecasts very large crude carrier daily earnings for a non-eco ship at $50,000 in 2020, up from its prior estimate of $45,000 six weeks ago and a revised estimate of $35,500 in 2019.

“We believe 2020 will be a very strong year for crude tankers as multiple demand drivers coupled with manageable fleet growth should help continue to support rates,” Jefferies said.

The inaugural eight winners of the first ever Lloyd’s List Global Awards were announced last week.

Drawing from our list of regional event winners in Asia, SAMEA, Europe and the Americas, the Lloyd’s List judging panel were given the unenviable task of deciding on an overall global winner in each category.

To find out who won, which other companies were nominated, and how the judging panel selected the winners, download our special Global Awards 2019 supplement here.

Missed out this year? Fear not as the 2020 Excellence in Shipping awards programme is now open for entries across all regions. We look forward to celebrating with you at the end of 2020 at our ceremonies in Dubai, Singapore, New York and London.

For information about all the regional awards and how to enter, go to lloydslist.com/awards

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