Shipping Container Price Surge to Reverse Due to Overcapacity

December 21, 2023

© Mariusz / Adobe Stock
© Mariusz / Adobe Stock

Higher prices for containers used by merchant ships caused by attacks on Red Sea shipping are likely to fall back in three to nine months to levels seen in early December due to market overcapacity, the head of an online container logistics platform said on Wednesday.

Container prices have risen some 10% from last week in Rotterdam and Hamburg to $1,310-$1,350 per 40-foot-high cube cargo worthy unit, as Iran-backed Yemeni militants have targeted merchant ships in the Red Sea, forcing major shipping companies to change routes.

"Container scarcity has led to an increase in container prices," Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum (GMF), as fewer containers are expected to arrive on time as they re-route around the Cape of Good Hope on Africa's southern tip.

Oil major BP paused all Red Sea transits, and a slew of top shipping companies including Maersk started diverting shipments normally made through the Suez Canal. The new route around Africa adds days to journey times and raises costs.

Roeloffs expected the new U.S.-led multinational operation to safeguard commerce in the Red Sea and allow passage of goods through the Suez Canal, and that, along with overcapacity in the container market, would help keep container prices in check.

Estimates foresee the re-routing of trade routes adding some 10-12 days of transit time, which Roeloffs said would soak up between 1.4 million TEU and 1.8 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), which is about 5% of global container capacity.

"Overcapacity in container shipping is so large that even soaking up 5% of capacity will not make a long-lasting impact on container prices," he said, adding that he expected prices to gravitate lower to around pre-attack levels.


(Reuters - Reporting by Divya Chowdhury; additional reporting by Mehnaz Yasmin; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Logistics News

JF Fendercare to Supply Equipment for Terminal Expansion in Singapore

JF Fendercare to Supply Equipment for Terminal Expansion in Singapore

As Shale Oil Gains Slow, Deepwater Port Struggles for Customers

As Shale Oil Gains Slow, Deepwater Port Struggles for Customers

China's Imports of Russian Oil Near Record High

China's Imports of Russian Oil Near Record High

Port of Detroit Unveils Plan to Decarbonize Operations

Port of Detroit Unveils Plan to Decarbonize Operations

Subscribe for Maritime Logistics Professional E‑News