The fastest turnaround times for container ships in 2019 are recorded in Spain (0.65 days per ship in port), followed by Portugal (0.69), France (0.75) and Morocco (0.78). Container ships spent longest in the ports of Algeria (3.22 days per ship in port), Tunisia (3.12), Libya (2.32) and Mauritania (1.97).
Everything else equal, it should actually be expected that time in port would be longer in those countries with more container traffic, given that each ship has to load and unload more containers. However, there is also a causality going in the opposite direction: More efficient ports are more attractive for shippers and carriers and, thus, shorter time in port is a positive indicator of a port’s efficiency and trade competitiveness.
With limited gateway cargo, there are fewer outside trucks causing congestion in the yards, and with cargo arriving and departing in large batches, potentially planned days ahead, transhipment ports have some fundamental advantages. Last and not least, most are operated by global terminal operators, and many are set-up as cost centres or joint ventures with the ship operators.
On average, 75-85 per cent of port call time of container ships is consumed by container operations, i.e. the time between the first and last container lifts, while the remaining time may be due to pilotage, mooring, possibly Customs formalities and other operational or procedural requirements. There exists a huge spread in average port times, and this should be seen as an opportunity for improvement.