Red Sea Crisis Creates Port Congestion In West Mediterranean, New Project Eyed By Carriers

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  • The ongoing security issues in the Red Sea are causing a ripple effect, leading to significant congestion at major container terminals in the West Mediterranean.
  • This is due to the rerouting of large volumes of cargo originally destined for the East Mediterranean via the Red Sea.
  • These ships are now being forced to take the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, bypassing key East Mediterranean ports.

West Med Capacity Overwhelmed

The increased traffic has pushed utilization levels at major West Mediterranean ports like Tanger Med (91%), Algeciras (82%), Barcelona (66%), and Valencia (61%) to near capacity. Carriers without existing terminal stakes in the region are particularly struggling to find transhipment slots, leading to delays.

Barcelona and Tanger Med See Increased Activity

Barcelona’s Hutchison Barcelona Europe South (BEST) terminal has seen the most significant rise in activity this year, likely due to increased transhipment needs. Tanger Med has also reported handling record volumes in recent weeks, with deeper-drafted vessels arriving fully loaded from Asia.

Carriers Eye New Nador West Port Project

With limited options in the West Med, carriers are looking towards the upcoming Nador West Port project in Morocco with growing interest. This new port, with a planned 3 million TEU container terminal capacity, is expected to be a hotly contested concession opportunity.

China’s Cosco Seen as Potential Frontrunner

Given the significant impact on their East Med hub at Piraeus, China’s Cosco is expected to be a major bidder for the Nador West concession. The project is partially funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with construction underway and slated for completion by the end of 2024.

Uncertain Future for Red Sea Crisis

The long-term impact of the Red Sea crisis on shipping routes and port congestion remains unclear. However, the situation highlights the need for increased capacity and flexibility in the West Mediterranean region. The development of the Nador West port project could be a crucial step in addressing these challenges.

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Source: The Loadstar