Israel update: force majeure, congestion and war-risk premiums, but carriers still booking

18 October 2023


Evergreen has declared force majeure on the 1,778 teu Ever Cozy, which was unable to call at Israel’s port of Ashdod as scheduled, and diverted to Haifa.

The line said the situation was beyond its control and that all cargo destined for Ashdod had been discharged at Haifa, adding: “Thereafter, the subject contract of carriage is treated as terminated and all carrier’s responsibilities shall cease.”

It told customers: “To protect your interests and to minimise your costs exposure, we sincerely suggest you to take delivery of the goods at port of Haifa as soon as possible. If necessary, we encourage you to contact your cargo insurer for assistance.”

Although Ashdod continues to operate, lines have noted congestion at the port, whose website is blocked for security reasons.

It noted on Facebook: “Even now, we continue the work at the port as usual, while responding to the needs of the state of Israel. The port workers maintain operational continuity – unloading and loading essential goods for the residents of Israel. The port continues to operate as usual… together we’ll win.”

MSC told customers: “At this time, Israel’s major ports continue to function, including key terminals in Ashdod and Haifa, however there is currently congestion at Ashdod due to increased security checks and labour shortages, leading to increased waiting times. Inland services – both road and rail – are fully operational in and around the country.”

It said it would continue to accept bookings for Israel, but warned: “Certain dangerous goods are not able to be released in Ashdod port, due to government restrictions for certain UN codes at this time. Therefore it is not currently possible to create new bookings for restricted DG cargo.

“Where affected cargo is already in transit, contingency plans are in place to discharge at alternative locations, and we will keep customers well informed of any changes to their cargo’s destination.”

MSC added that its offices in Israel were closed.

Maersk said it too was continuing to take bookings and its services “remain operational” – also with the exception of dangerous goods at Haifa and Ashdod.

It added that it was offering “a number of relief packages for customers with cargo in Israel or bound for Israel”, consisting of a waiver of the change of destination (COD) fee – “subject to re-stowage and shifting costs, plus any ocean freight price difference to the new destination”. And it has stopped the clock on detention and demurrage on all locations in Israel until 8 November.

It added: “Valid until further notice for import containers on water to Israel and containers gated in full at first loading port bound for Israel. Deadline for COD requests is three days prior to the estimated arrival time at transhipment port, and five days prior to the estimated arrival time at final (original) discharge port.”

Freightos, which has offices in Israel, confirmed its staff were safe, and said rates to Israel had fallen.

“Container rates from China to Ashdod port are down about 10% since last week, but in line with rates for the region overall. In a sign of the times, Israeli carrier Zim warned of the possibility of short-notice service interruptions and announced an $80-$120 war-risk premium on containers to and from Israeli ports.”

It explained that would represent a 4% to 7% increase in rates per import container. It said rates from European hubs to Ashdod had mostly fallen as well, though less sharply, “suggesting both lanes continue to operate normally, as rates are in line with larger regional market trends for now”.

Insurers have reportedly put additional premiums, up ten-fold, on voyages to Israel, amounting to 0.15% to 0.2% of the value of a ship  – tens of thousands of dollars – up from 0.0125%.

Meanwhile, oil prices are rising on the back of the conflict, with Brent crude up 3.3% in the past five days. Ligentia told customers: “If these increases are sustained, they may affect haulage fuel surcharges and future bunker adjustment factor.”


Kindly supplied by The Loadstar


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