World's Busiest Port in 2007: The Rematch

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 2/24/2008 12:42:00 AM
Sometime ago I made a post regarding the world's busiest ports. Out of curiosity, I decided to look whether the status quo was preserved in 2007 of Shanghai having the world's busiest cargo port and Singapore the world's busiest container port. To understand the nature of this difference, let's go back to my earlier post's definitions. Cargo tonnage refers to the total weight of goods that are loaded and discharged at a port, whereas container throughput refers to the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) which go through a port. For example, a forty-foot container would count as 2 TEUs.

Let us begin with cargo tonnage. In 2007, Shanghai handled 560 million tons of cargo to Singapore's 483.4M tons. In 2006, Shanghai handled 537M to Singapore's 449M tons, so Singapore is closing the gap somewhat with respect to cargo tonnage. They are in first and second place, respectively, with Rotterdam coming in third with 406M tons.

Meanwhile, Shanghai is closing in fast on Singapore's lead with respect to container throughput. In 2007, Singapore held on to its lead with 27.9M TEUs handled compared to 26.15M for Shanghai. In 2006, the difference was 24.8M TEUs in Singapore compared to 21.7M TEUs for Shanghai. Don't expect this situation to last; even the head honcho of Singapore's port authority expects Shanghai to take both crowns--cargo tonnage and container throughput--sooner or later. There are also tidbits from Portworld on Shanghai's expansion plans that aim to raise its container throughput to 34M TEUs by 2010:
The chief executive for PSA in Singapore, the world's busiest, recently admitted that Shanghai could overtake Singapore in a year or two.

The past five years has seen cargo handling at Shanghai more than double. Rapid development of the Chinese economy and the large industrial and trade base of the Yangtze River Delta region have propelled growth.

Supporting this growth has been the construction and development of the $2.3 billion Yangshan deep-water facility, which has been developed to allow deep water access at Shanghai to accommodate the world's largest vessels.

Shanghai International Port (Group) Co. Ltd. vice president Huang Xin was reported saying that the port will have a container handling capacity of 34 million TEUs by 2010, due largely to the construction of Yangshan.

The first two phases of the project with nine berths and an annual designed capacity of 4.3 million TEUs have been completed. Phase III, which will add seven new berths, is designed to bring throughput capacity to 15 million TEUs at Yangshan alone.

Perhaps not to be outdone, Singapore is doing some one-upmanship in expanding its facilities as well to be able to handle 35 million TEUs by 2009. Call it the "container wars":

Several industry players, questioned by Portworld, pointed to major expansion projects that are already currently underway to boost Singapore's capacity.

Some $1.4 billion is being spent to boost the port's annual capacity by some 40%. This expansion is slated to add 16 berths at Singapore's Pasir Panjang terminal, increasing the terminal's annual handling capacity by 14 million TEUs.

These new 16 berths, due for completion in 2013, is in additon to 13 berths currently already being built by PSA in another project due for completion in 2009.

Completion of the earlier project by 2009 will already boost PSA's total handling capacity in Singapore to 35 million TEUs.

Why does Shanghai decisively beat Singapore on cargo tonnage while lagging slightly behind on container throughput? The commonsense answer is that the goods coming into Shanghai may include more heavy commodities such as iron and copper which are much in demand to help feed China's industrial machine. Meanwhile, there is no comparable boom necessitating such an influx in Singapore. Wait until next year for the rematch, then. [Ladeez and the Red(s) corner, weighing in at 560 million tons, the heavyweight shipping champion of the world...Shanghai!]