Drewry notes in the current issue of its Container Insight Weekly
that "virtually all Mediterranean transshipment hub ports recorded double digit growth in 2013, well above regional and global growth levels."
It predicts that "bigger east-west ships and larger alliances are likely to continue
to allow key transshipment hub ports in the Mediterranean to outperform
underlying organic market growth by serving regions well beyond the Med
through relay. The large hubs with critical mass are likely to continue
to be the main beneficiaries, whilst the smaller hubs will find it harder
to compete unless they can find a niche — or a large carrier to back
Drewry predicted that port traffic will see a 3.3-percent growth in 2013, but that ports near the Mediterranean Sea will see growth up to 6 percent.
"Transshipment volumes at key Mediterranean hubs surged by an average of over 8 percent, however, more than twice the global figure, with certain ports showing even more extraordinary growth rates," according to Drewry.
Drewry also said there has been been recovery in feeder volumes to and from the Black Sea and North Africa for Central Mediterranean hubs and that in the West Mediterranean hubs, "much of the growth must be due to increased relay transshipment activity. Carriers have been rationalizing their service networks and replacing direct services to and from the likes of West Africa with transshipment from ever larger east-west mother vessels passing through the Mediterranean. In addition, 2013 saw Maersk Line, for example, linking the Mediterranean with the east coast of North America by relaying Med cargo onto its Middle East-east coast North America service."
Just last week, Maersk announced that it will offer service between East Coast ports in North America and South America by transshipping cargo through Algeciras, Spain.
Drewry said the three ports that achieved the highest growth in estimated transshipment traffic in 2013 were Sines (76 percent), Tanger Med (38 percent) and Piraeus (19 percent). It noted, "All have direct or indirect links with major carriers. Sines is backed by MSC (through TIL); Tanger Med has CMA CGM (and reportedly an MSC affiliate); and Piraeus has Cosco through ownership of the port’s main terminal by Cosco Pacific. While Sines is located on the Atlantic Coast of Portugal, Maersk said it acts very much like Med transshipment centers."
Drewry noted that growth varied in different parts of the Med. "The Central Med and West Med sub-regions showed the strongest growth in 2013 with 12.3 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively, whereas the East Med sub-region saw a decline of nearly 5 percent. Within the East Med sub-region, though, it is significant that East Port Said saw 9 percent growth whereas all the other (much smaller) East Med hub ports saw a decline. East Port Said is home to APM Terminals’ Suez Canal Container Terminal, which is by far the largest East Med hub port with over 60 percent of the sub-region’s volumes. "