Terminal operations at Ningbo-Zhoushan may partially resume after no new COVID cases detected

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Operations at Ningbo Meishan port terminal were suspended on August 11th, 2021, after a single case of COVID-19 was reported among the Ningbo Meidong Container Terminal staff. The Ningbo-Zhoushan port began to turn ships away on the morning of August 11th. The worker who tested positive resided in the terminal dormitory and was tested negative on August 8th, before being tested positive on August 10th.  Since then, no new cases have been detected according to health authorities.

Port authorities had previously signaled a possible reopening date of September 6th but if a phased reopening begins this week to tackle the backlog, a full resumption of operations may be possible by the beginning of September.

The Meishan Island terminal handles about one quarter of the port’s container cargo. Since the closedown began, nearly all inbound and outbound container operations at Meishan terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port had been redirected to other terminals since the morning of the 11th demonstrating that the sheer size of the facility has helped it absorb much of the container volume.

Data provided by project44 confirms that a large volume of container ships (41 as of August 17th) at anchor are waiting for berth space outside Ningbo-Zhoushan.

According to project44 data, the average number of weekly port calls to Ningbo -Zhoushan had plummeted 22% from nearly 188 container vessels to 146 last week which coincides with the volume of container cargo the Meishan island port terminal handles. Ocean Carriers are diverting to other terminals, however Blank Sailings to the port did not spike as they did following the Yantain Port closure in May. project44 recorded only 15 blank sailings to Ningbo-Zhoushan on August 17th which is in line with average Blank Sailings at the port.

Total nominal vessel TEU capacity calling at Ningbo has dropped from 620,592 TEU to 572,052 TEU signaling only a 7.8% decrease from August 11th to the 16th. Total nominal TEU capacity for vessels mooring at Ningbo dropped from 168,520 TEU to 103,064 TEU signaling a decline of 39% decrease from August 11th to the 16th. Note- the previous major drop was due to the Typhoon that hit the region in late June. According to port authorities, the port processed and average about 77,000 TEU a day in the last days which was only 10% lower than what it averaged in July.

Since July 20th, the number of newly reported cases of COVID-19 has compelled the Chinese government to re-enforce restrictions to reduce the surge in the spread.  Most ports in the country ask for a nucleic acid test (NAT) for the entire crew with vessels anchored until negative results are confirmed.

Many ports in the country have also made it compulsory for vessels to quarantine for 14-28 days if they were previously berthed in India or were part of any crew change process within 14 days of arriving in China.

This is the second shutdown of at major Chinese port after the Yantian Port closure in Shenzhen for over a month in May after a sudden virus outbreak, stoking initial fears of additional supply chain disruptions in the run up to Black Friday and Christmas shopping seasons. However according to project44 data, the effects of the Ningbo shut down are not nearly as significant as the Yantain shut down.