Dominance of North-West European Ports Under Threat from Mediterranean: Report

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday April 12, 2016

A new whitepaper from Drewry Supply Chain Advisors' (Drewry) suggests the dominance of traditional gateway ports in North-West Europe could be under threat, having found that for some shippers "better" routes from China exist via Mediterranean gateway ports.

"More shippers will look to route via Southern gateway ports as the maritime price differential equalises and intermodal connectivity improves," predicts Drewry.

With North-West Europe currently home to some of the world's biggest bunkering ports by volume, a shift in traffic could have potentially notable implications for marine fuel markets. 

In the paper, Drewry says it looked to establish the "best routes" for containerised imports into South Germany from China.

Drewry's analysis shows that the cheapest option for shippers was via Rotterdam or Hamburg, with compared to Koper, Slovenia, had a price advantage of $150 and $100 respectively. 

Koper, however, currently has a three-day transit time advantage.

"As such we believe Shanghai-to-Munich via Koper is a true 'Best-Route' contender for shippers with time sensitive cargoes," concluded Drewry.

Drewry says other forces are also at play which will drive a shift to the Southern gateway.

"Firstly, the ocean freight rate differential for cargoes from Asia to North and South European ports is changing; the former has traditionally been cheapest but in the fourth quarter 2015 the World Container Index reported that ex-Shanghai rates to the Mediterranean were lower than to North Europe in 10 out of 14 weeks," notes Drewry.

Further, there are upcoming improvements in South European intermodal operations, such as the June opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT).

"Once this translates into cheaper rail rates, the area where the Southern Gate can compete will expand further North," explained Drewry.

The full whitepaper can be obtained by contacting Drewry at

In March, Ship & Bunker reported that that container carriers will have to make "deeper capacity cuts" if 2016 is to see any rebound from the falling spot rates that the market has seen over the past year.