27 March 2007

All Them Anchored Ships - Explained

Back on the 13th Tom and Amy were puzzled by the large number of ships anchored off shore when they did their overnight sail between Broken Bay and Nelson Bay. I was wrong about them being there waiting for cheaper labor fees for loading and unloading in Sydney's commercial docks in Botany Bay.

I stumbled across to the answer today when reading the Sydney business news. It turns out that they are all coal ships waiting for access to Newcastle harbor to load up on Australian coal destined for China. Newcastle is one of Australia's major coal shipping ports where coal from the New South Wales mines is sent for shipment overseas. Tom and Amy passed Newcastle that night.

Thanks for poor planning, a lack in investment in infrastructure, and record demand from China, the coal port at Newcastle can not keep up. As of mid March, there are over 70 coal ships queued up off shore waiting up to 20 days for access. According to this Bloomberg article, the backlog is reaching a crises point with customers deciding they can no longer afford to sit offshore and wait. Here is another news article from January that noted that the queue is getting long.

I can't wait until Tom and Amy get over to Singapore. The last time I flew in to SIN, all I could see in the waters were ships. Hundreds of them. There were so many ships anchored that it seemed like you could walk from Singapore to the mainland without getting wet. I think Sing it will blow their minds.


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