The Valencia Containerised Freight Index (VCFI), the indicator that measures the trend and evolution of container transport costs by sea from the Port of València, has once again grown. In September it rose by 1.26% to 3,557.94 points. Once again, factors such as international demand, the shortage of supply, traffic congestion in certain geographical areas or the increase in fuel prices have determined the increase in the index. The VCFI now accumulates a growth of 255.79% since the beginning of the series in January 2018.

Demand continues with the same growing trend as in previous months, which is reflected in the port traffic collected by the RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index compiled by the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. Thus, August saw a further increase in its levels, mainly due to the growth in Chinese ports. This strong boost in demand, especially in US import traffics, is influencing the global shipping market, requiring shipping lines to deploy all available capacity in the market to meet the existing demand.

Against this backdrop, idle fleet levels remain at historic lows. According to Alphaliner’s data, at the end of August, the fleet idle for strictly commercial reasons represented 0.7% of the total and, although it experienced a slight growth in mid-September (1.1%), it decreased again at the end of the same month to represent 0.6% of the total active fleet and reached 159,714 TEU (standard 20-foot container).

Beyond the supply of capacity by shipping lines and the levels of idle fleet, it is necessary to highlight port congestion as a key factor in the current container shortage. The latest data published by Sea-Intelligence, a firm specialising in maritime traffic data, for the month of August shows how delays and congestion have a reducing effect. Specifically, they point out that 12.5% of the world fleet was unavailable due to these problems.

To this must be added the evolution of the average price of the European Brent barrel, which has experienced an upward trend during the last month. In this sense, and reversing the downward trend observed the previous month, the average price of a barrel of crude oil has increased by 5.028% in September compared to the previous month, rising from $70.75 in August to $74.49. As regards the price of bunkering, the average price of IFO 380 (Intermediate Fuel Oil) increased by 8.78% in September compared to August, while VLSFO (Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil) increased by 7.28%.