Global Container Handling May Grow by 260 Million TEU


The capacity of global container handling could rise by 260 million TEU by the year 2023, according to the fifth edition of ‘Container Terminal Project Pipeline’ by DS Research.

DS Research, a German market analysis company, has found that around 350 expansion projects are planned until 2023, but that only two thirds will reach completion.

As trade tensions grow and terminal utilization rates are overall low, terminal operators tend to be more hesitant regarding new terminal investments, which has led DS Research to find that container handling capacity will develop more in line with demand.


World Bank statistics place the current global container throughput at 700 million TEU as of 2016


Matthew Gore provides a container market review for 2017 in a recent Port Technology technical paper

It found that container port demand, which considers factors such as container throughput, is forecasted to increase by 210 million TEU (4.3% CARG) from 2018 to 2023, whereas container handling capacity is projected to increase by 260 million TEU (3.4% CAGR) in the same period of time.

However, DS Research found that construction activities for specific regions and for terminal automation projects remain to be “strong”.

Larger container terminal projects cluster at the US East Coast, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca – moving away from Northern Europe and the Panama Canal.


Courtesy of DS Research


With the majority of the listed projects being small or medium sized, about 75% of all projects scheduled for completion until 2023 include a capacity expansion of below 1 million TEU. 

Daniel Schaefer, Market Analyst at DS Research, said: “The purpose of project announcements is to attract interest from investors and potential customers. Therefore, what is announced usually exceeds what is actually built.

“At the same time, we expect that about two thirds of the expansion projects included in our project pipeline will in fact get completed, with execution rates ranging from 40% for North Africa to about 70% for South East Asia and Oceania.

“We have seen a definite trend where many global concessions are being let on the basis as a multi-purpose terminal, which means containers plus dry bulk or breakbulk facilities and an increasing interest of international operators in these kind of facilities as well as in inland services.”

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