Port congestion hits Saudi shipments

By Malini Hariharan

The blog is hearing a number of reports about delays in polymer shipments from Saudi Arabia because of port congestion. This is being attributed to a shortage of containers and labour ahead of Ramadan.

“It is now takes us 25-30 days to get material out of Saudi Arabia as against the usual 15 days,” says a source from a company with polyolefin operations in the Kingdom.

The situation is so severe that some shipping lines are considering bypassing Dammam port, the export hub for petrochemical companies in Al Jubail.

Pic source: Edmark International

Another media report states that slow loading and unloading at the port has led to ships being delayed for up to four weeks.

Port authorities tried to play down the crisis but an official attributed the delays to the inability of a contractor to hire enough workers.

Meanwhile, the local chamber of commerce blamed shipping agents for deliberately delaying unloading of cargoes.

The Ramadan holidays have no doubt contributed to the congestion but sources pointed out that there were other factors as well.

Nearly 3-4m tonnes/year of new capacity has come up in Al-Jubail over the last couple of years and most of the output is meant for exports through Dammam port.

While the situation is likely to ease after Ramadan but there will continue to be pressure for another 1-2 years until the port is expanded.

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