Tianjin Ship Disruptions Persist as Some Oil Cargoes Barred

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Damaged Vehicles at Tianjin
Rows of burnt vehicles stand following an explosion in Tianjin. Source: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Shipping and logistics companies reported delays and disruptions after the deadly explosion at the Chinese port of Tianjin as some oil cargoes were still barred from one of its wharves.

About 110 vessels are anchored in the sea off the port, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and freight companies including Auckland, New Zealand-based Mainfreight Ltd. and Japan’s Sankyu Inc. said the blast will cause delays or impact their businesses. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and BHP Billiton Ltd. said operations at the port resumed and they didn’t anticipate an impact to deliveries.

Tianjin is the 10th-busiest container port globally and has become a northern gateway for ore, coal, automobiles and oil into China, the world’s biggest user of energy, metals and grains. About 17 percent of the nation’s ethylene imports, 15 percent of its wheat deliveries and 30 percent of steel exports in the first half of 2015 were transported via the Tianjin customs area, government data show.

“Oil tankers are barred from entering North Wharf,” Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration spokesman Wang Xiaolei said by phone Friday. “All other wharfs and sea channels off Tianjin port are operating normally.”

The Tianjin government still can’t determine the exact quantity and types of toxic chemicals that caused the blast, Gao Huaiyou, vice chief at the city’s safety bureau, said to reporters, according to CCTV footage. At least 55 people were killed and more than 700 injured after the explosions Wednesday.

China Refineries

There were 60 bulk carriers, 37 dry cargo and passenger ships, as well as nine tankers anchored outside the port as of 2:44 p.m. local time Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The total figure includes four ships used to support floating platforms in the sea.

“The port disruption probably won’t have much impact on refineries as they can discharge oil at nearby ports,” Amy Sun, an analyst with ICIS China, said by phone from Guangzhou Friday. Crude imports through the Tianjin port accounted for 3.7 percent of the country’s total in the first half year, according to customs data.

A China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. spokesman said Thursday its refinery near Tianjin was operating normally and that it didn’t see any immediate impact on plant logistics. The refinery has capacity of 251,000 barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Port Throughput

Operations at PetroChina Co.’s Dagang refinery that’s in the southern part of Tianjin municipality aren’t affected, a spokesman said Thursday. He declined to comment further.

Total throughput at Tianjin rose 10 percent in 2014 to 445.8 million metric tons, according to Hong Kong-listed Tianjin Port Development Holdings Ltd. It handled 110.5 million tons of metal ore, 88.9 million tons of coal and 18.7 million tons of crude oil, the equivalent of 375,000 barrels a day. China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s Tianjin FLNG, the nation’s first floating liquefied natural gas terminal, is nearby.

The late-night blasts Wednesday, which may have been the result of a fire, spewed toxic material into the air and shattered windows in buildings for kilometers around. China’s earthquake center said the biggest explosion was equivalent to a 2.9-magnitude temblor.

— With assistance by Sarah Chen, and Jing Yang

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