Ningbo Zhoushan Port Sets New Record of 3.3M TEU in a Month

record TEU volume at Zhoushan Ningbo
Construction is proceeding on an expansion which will add five berths to support growth in the container throughput (Zhoushan Ningbo Port Group)

Published Jun 3, 2022 4:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

China’s second busiest seaport, Ningbo Zhoushan is reporting strong increases in throughput as it worked to increase productivity while Shanghai dealt with the citywide lockdowns due to COVID-19. According to reports from Chinese officials, the port reached three million TEU in April and exceeded it by as much as 10 percent in May with the total expected to exceed 3.3 million TEU. Shanghai, by comparison, which normally handles nearly four million TEU a month, had a throughput of just over 3.4 million TEU in May due to the COVID restrictions.

The Ningbo Zhoushan port has been working to expand its facilities to maintain its growth demonstrated by the 16 percent year-over-year growth in container volumes in May 2022. The rapid growth is further demonstrated by the port’s monthly average of approximately 2.6 million TEU or a total of just over 31 million boxes in 2021. April 2022’s three million TEU represented 10 percent growth over the prior year. During May, the port also received a record 299 vessel calls.

With Shanghai having started its lockdown at the end of March, port officials from the Ningbo Zhoushan Port Group said their port had played a key role in stabilizing the shipping and logistic market, accommodating more cargo and vessels during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in and near Shanghai. 

“To alleviate the pressure on foreign trade companies in the Yangtze River Delta region and the Yangtze River Economic Belt, Ningbo Zhoushan Port has launched a series of measures since April, which have started to pay off,” they reported. Among the efforts being highlighted were coordinating all internal assignments and the berth resources according to available storage, adjusting ship docking schemes, and improving the utilization rate of dock resources. In addition, local maritime authorities, customs, and immigration inspection departments cooperated to reduce the waiting times for ships as well as customs clearance times, which helped to improve port capacity.

Efforts were also made to leverage the sea-rail combined transport mode which helped to elevate the shortage of drivers and restrictions on truck movements. They reported that containers transported over rail reached 135,000 TEUs in April, increasing 32.3 percent year-on-year.

The efforts also extended beyond container operations to accommodate other forms of cargo and export. The China Daily is citing as an example an order for 800 buses manufactured in China and scheduled to ship from a Shanghai area terminal representing China’s largest-ever order from Mexico. Working with port officials, the decision was made to reroute 70 buses to Ningbo Zhoushan where due to a coordinated effort they departed on May 7 for Mexico aboard the vehicle carrier Viking Adventure.

The Ningbo Zhoushan Port Group is working to expand the port facilities as they seek to continue to grow regularly exceeding the new record of 3.3 million TEU and increases in other volumes. For example, for the first four months of 2022, Ningbo Customs reported an increase of more than 400 percent in the volume of fruit imports. In April 2022, fruit import volumes were up more than 10 percent, achieving another new record at the port.

Seven months ahead of schedule on May 25, the main body of No. 5 berth of the Dapukou Container Terminal Project in the Jintang Port Area of Ningbo Zhoushan was completed. Construction has entered the final stage and is expected to be completed by the end of December this year. The new terminal area will have five additional container berths, which will enable multiple large container ships to berth at the same time, further enhancing the container handling capacity of the port.