Shattered ports hit maritime trade

Shattered ports hit maritime trade

Japan has begun assessing the damage to port infrastructure, vital to receiving aid, commodities and goods for rebuilding areas devastated by the quake and tsunami.        

Tokyo and all ports south of Japan’s capital were operating normally after briefly shutting down operations following Friday’s disaster, while the rest of the country’s ports were being assessed for damage, a shipowner and port official said.

The closure of ports was expected to cost Japan more than $3.4 billion in lost seaborne trade each day, according to shipping trade publication Lloyd’s List Intelligence. Maritime trade in the world’s No 3 economy totalled $1.5 trillion last year.    

The northeast coast ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were so severely damaged by Friday’s disaster that they were not expected to return to operation for months, if not years. The ports were medium-sized facilities that handled mostly containers, but also some fuel products and dry bulk goods.

Japan’s ninth-largest container port, Kashima, and the smaller port of Hitachinaka sustained milder damage and both could be back in operation within weeks, he said.  The tsunami also destroyed dozens of vessels, including three of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha’s panamax ships. The disaster was expected to delay oil shipments and cause major port congestion. Grain shipments, however, were not yet affected following the quake.