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Transport capacity and payloads

In 2014 the payload for container ships to Norway was high. In 2015 the payload dropped. Why?

Along with Norwegian Coastal Administration, we have looked at changes in shipping capacity and the payload of shipping lines serving Norway.

​​​Skipping capacity for container

​A ship carrying capacity is limited by the stability, the deadweight, the container capacity and the trailer capacity. The ship's stability limits how high it is possible to stack loaded containers. For a container vessel, we expect that the nominal container capacity of loaded containers is half of the ships registered TEU capacity. This varies from ship to ship.

A ships capacity is also limited since the ship carry cargo to many ports on the route and in several cases also to ports outside Norway. To define the ship's capacity we must look at sailing patterns and grouping port calls by ship voyages.

We have looked at the AIS data for container and ro-ro ships in regular service in Norway for 2014 to 2015 to look at the development of capacity.

​​Sharp increase in capacity in 2015

For containers the nominal shipping capacity was 440,000 TEU in 2015 to Norway and the same from Norway. The capacity increased by 8% from 2014 to 2015.

This next chart shows the quarterly development based on incoming container ships with their nominal capacity. We see that the quarterly capacity from the Netherlands and Belgium has been stable, while the capacity from Germany and Poland has increased.


Chart 1. Liner transport capacity for containers to Norway in TEU.

The rise from Germany is because Maersk and Hapag Lloyd have established their own feeder route from there to the Oslofjord. From Netherlands CSCL established a separate feeder route starting in Rotterdam.

Unifeeder has reduced its feeder transport somewhat and have decided to focus on European cargo instead. They have are continuing the lines the acquired from Tschudi Line from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Oslofjord.

In Western Norway has capacity remained relatively stable with the exception of a new weekly line from Samskip in 2014.

​​Payload for container

The next chart shows the container vessels utilization of capacity (number of TEU of loaded and unloaded containers with load relative to the nominal loading capacity of the ships). 


Chart 2. Quarterly development of container ship capacity and utilization

The best inbound payload ratio (number of TEU with load divided by the nominal load capacity of the ship) to Norway was achieved in the third quarter 2014 and first quarter 2015. That was 76% of the nominal capacity utilized. In the third quarter of 2015 the utilization fell to 65% and in the fourth quarter to below 60%.

For outbound cargo was filling ratio was highest in the fourth quarter of 2014. Fourth quarter is often beneficial for southbound cargo because of the fish export season.

This declining trend in the filling ratio is negative. Overcapacity put rates under pressure and ships' earnings fall. The quarterly figures often fluctuate and it's too early to say whether this will be a lasting problem.

The main reasons why the utilization rate falls is that the new feeder routes to a lesser degree carry European cargo. In 2014, feeder transport was to a greater extent made of Unifeeder, who can more easily combine cargo from several players. For Hapag Lloyd the new route also include other foreign ports, so it is natural that the load to Oslo constitute a small part of the ship's capacity.

The utilization is slightly higher than indicated in the figure since cargo from private ports in western and northern Norway are not included in the volumes. The relative development is however significant.

  
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