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A Shipper Owned Container’s (SOC) opportunity?


Should cargo owners use their boxes if carriers are suffering from a shortage?

The massive box imbalance from Yantian and neighbouring ports might be driving cargo owners to arrange for their own. However, that neither means carriers will accept the consignment nor translates to savings for cargo owners.

Not all advantageous

Southern ports’ congestion affected shipment deadlines and rates. Shortly after Yantian port’s COVID-19 infections, its policies of bookings to get in and out resulting in chaos. These led to carriers avoiding that port altogether. Given the skyrocketing rates, cargo owners remain hesitant in using their boxes while still booking slots with carriers.

With the bottleneck in Southern China, cargo owners naturally opt to divert to other routes for delivery deadlines. Carriers hence take the opportunity to impose a loading due to a “different” route just for emptying. Either way, cargo owners who think they can address the equipment shortage with their own are not exactly saving as they would like to think they are.

If boxes get to empty, the vessels will be in an advantageous position. With the COVID-19 induced procedures, there is a significant quantity of empty boxes stuck. It is no longer a case of equipment shortages, but a question of demand now. Would these ports handle the same amount of throughput as expected?

SOCs may appear to be an enticing approach for cargo owners. However, the conditions at southern ports, unfortunately, jeopardised what is earlier deemed an ideal. Typically, the carrier charges an “all-inclusive” rate. Upon berthing and emptying, the carrier is responsible for its loading for export (if any).

On the flip side, if the carrier does not have much inventory, which does not warrant additional exports, the loading premium can be anybody’s guess. This is nothing more than carriers trying to cover the costs of waiting time for a load to export. Cargo owners are quite the “victims” in this case as they take on the buck.

The known benefits such as procurement and cost control are virtually non-existent. However, cargo owners can always tap into Marine Online’s network of shipowners whose vessel locations may synchronise with their routes and destinations at competitive rates.


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