A new report from the London-based research and consultancy company Drewry examines the development of the container terminal operator market over the last decade.
The report, Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review & Forecast 2011
, finds that global port throughput has more than doubled since 2002, aided in no small part from China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Nearly one in three TEUs on a global basis is now handled at a Chinese port, compared to 19 percent in 2002
Global volume rose to 588.8 million TEUs in 2011, compared to 279.3 million in 2002.
Meanwhile, global terminal operators have concentrated their share of a larger volume, increased their share of global throughput from 58 percent in 2002 to 76 percent in 2011.
Despite the drastic rise in volume and concentration in power, the top five operators look largely the same today as they did a decade ago, with one notable exception. DP World’s acquisition of P&O Ports in 2006, which Drewry called the “first container terminal portfolio mega-acquisition,” means the Dubai-based operator is the fourth largest in the world, essentially replacing the defunct P&O on the list.
The top three operators from 2002, in terms of global throughput, are still the top three today, though APM Terminals (now second) and PSA International have swapped places behind Hutchison Port Holdings.
The report also looks ahead at the next five years.
“In this year’s report, we are forecasting that global container port throughput will exceed 800 million TEUs by 2017,” said Neil Davidson, Drewry’s senior advisor for ports. “On this basis, within 10 years from now, the industry will easily be in excess of 1 billion TEUs per annum – and this is based only on single-digit growth each year. It’s also quite possible that ships in excess of 20,000 TEUs will be in service on the main east-west routes. Regardless of the current economic uncertainties therefore, the industry is facing a huge challenge in terms of growth – on more than one front.”
Drewry projects global container port demand growth of 6 percent per year through to the 2017 forecast, but with significant regional variations, with Europe quite flat for the next few years, North America showing a little growth, and emerging economies showing the strongest growth.
Drewry also noted that port congestion is largely absent at the moment, apart from a few hotspots.
“Forecast container port capacity growth is below demand growth, and so pressure could easily build in certain regions towards 2017, especially Asia," Drewry said. - Eric Johnson