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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

California’s container-ship traffic jam, Ship fuel prices jump, Foreign Trade Outreach & Education

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

January 18, 2021

Inside California’s colossal container-ship traffic jam

Over 30 container ships are anchored in San Pedro Bay off Los Angeles and Long Beach

(American Shipper)In the movie “Falling Down,” the character played by Michael Douglas is stranded in a Los Angeles traffic jam. He abandons his car, starts walking with briefcase in hand and ultimately has a mental breakdown. Cargo shippers trying to get their containers through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach can relate.

The pileup of ships offshore in San Pedro Bay and congestion onshore at the terminals have reached epic proportions.

And the situation could become even more maddening in the weeks ahead.

32 container ships at anchor

American Shipper interviewed Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, to get the latest on ships in San Pedro Bay.

He reported that as of midday Wednesday, 91 ships were in port: 46 at berth and 45 at anchor. Of those, there were 56 container ships: 24 at berth and 32 at anchor. Between Wednesday and Saturday, 19 more container ships will arrive, with the same number due to depart.

Ship fuel prices jump, spread widens. ‘Scrubber’ revival nigh?

(American Shipper) One year ago — which seems like an eternity ago — no one in ocean shipping was talking about COVID. They were talking, ad nauseum, about fuel. About a massive spike in fuel prices due to a regulatory “tsunami” that would hammer liner companies’ 2020 financial results, inflate the cost of imported goods and steer winners and losers among shipping stocks.

It didn’t happen, courtesy of COVID. Instead, the price of marine fuel collapsed. Shipowners and cargo shippers actually saved money on fuel in 2020.

The trend this year is in the opposite direction. The price of marine fuel is coming back. And so-called “scrubbers” — equipment allowing ships to legally burn cheaper, high-sulfur fuel — are starting to pay off much more than before.

Rising marine fuel prices will mean rising costs for cargo shippers and ship operators. A higher scrubber advantage will mean more upside for the shipowners like Star Bulk (NYSE: SBLK) that installed them on a large scale.

American Shipper interviewed Richard Joswick, head of oil pricing, refining and trade flow analytics at S&P Global Platts, to put 2021’s marine fuel and scrubber outlook into perspective.

Foreign Trade Outreach and Education

The US Census Bureau offers helpful free training sessions for US exporters. Information regarding upcoming webinars can be found at their website -

Please contact us for further information or questions –

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