Container ports (also referred to as container terminals) are specialized maritime port facilities that primarily deal in container shipping and transhipment services.
Terminals play a very important role in the global logistics and supply chain industry, as they dictate the rate at which commerce and trade can take place. Efficient and streamlined terminals function smoothly, thereby reducing the waiting time for ships and increasing the cargo output.
Most shipping ports these days have dedicated container terminals to handle incoming containers. They are located within the port premises, but away from where passenger and cruise terminals are situated.
Container terminals are so important that the international metric to measuring the efficiency and ranking of a general port is through the volume and quantity of containers that go through. This metric is determined through TEU shipment volumes, where TEU stands for a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit.
A standard twenty-foot container is chosen as the international unit for measuring the volume and cargo within a container. Thus, a container measuring forty foot in length would be classified as 2 x 20-foot containers, making it 2 TEUs.
Related Read : A Guide to Shipping Container Dimensions
From this metric, the top three busiest ports across the globe are the Port of Shanghai, the Port of Singapore, and the Port of Shenzhen in China.
However, the work of loading, unloading, and dealing with transshipments are not solely the duty of the ports. They merely provide space and facilities for other organizations and companies to deal with the actual container operations. This improves the finances of a region by inviting foreign and private firms to participate in port operations.
Thus, terminal operators play a major role in how the port functions. Efficient terminals are key to the success of a port and will net the parent company more tenders and bids. This allows them to expand and grow their global operations.
Related Reading : Top 10 Busiest Ports In The World
Various port authorities and managing organizations contract terminal operators to meet minimum container shipment standards. Due to this, many terminal operators have bought stakes in major global ports in an effort to incentivize their productivity.
In this article, the top 11 container terminal operators have been listed out.
They are not in any particular order, as the international rankings and positions continually change based on various maritime and economic parameters.
For the past several years, the top spot has regularly alternated between COSCO (China), PSA International (Singapore), and Hutchison Holdings (China).
Dubai Ports World (DPW) is a new player in this field but has quickly risen to the third-ranking in the international list owing to its several acquisitions ad large trade volume.
The list has been compiled on the basis of the total container tonnage and traffic moving through all the operator terminals as per the latest public records released by each company.
Major Container Terminal Operators in the World:
1. PSA International
Founded in 1964, PSA International based out of Singapore is a global leader when it comes to terminal operations. It has major container hubs spread across the globe through the operations of two nodal centres- PSA Singapore and PSA Antwerp.
It is a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings under the Government of Singapore. The company has now diversified into providing auxiliary maritime services through the PSA Marine division. The company began its global expansion with port interests in China, and now operates terminals all over the globe. It has been lauded for utilizing state of the art facilities in its various terminals.
PSA owns over 25 ports across regions such as Asia, the Middle East, and Europe and has investments in ports in countries such as Belgium India, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, and Panama.
2. Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH)
Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
HPH has routinely topped the list of top port terminal operators ever since it expanded worldwide in 1991. Based and managed out of Hong Kong, China, it currently operates nearly 300 berths across several important ports around the world. It is a subsidiary under the CK Hutchison Holdings group and has operations in 48 various ports.
Their terminals are spread across prominent shipping routes including Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. Their port interests include some of the top ports around the world such as the Port of Barcelona, Port of Buenos Aires, Port of Busan, and the Thames Port of London. Interestingly, PSA International has bought a minority 20% stake in HPH in a global expansion effort.
3. Dubai Ports World (DPW)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Registered as a multinational company specializing in logistics, DPW has rapidly made its mark on the global terminal industry. Its terminals handle and process nearly 10% of all global container trade and is a major player in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
It initially held significant port ownership in the US, prior to shifting its focus on to other regions. It now has interests in Africa, the Asia Pacific region, and Australia.
It operates over 40 terminals across 22 nations and operates through 2 home terminals- the Port of Jebel Ali and Port Rashid. It has grown in size since inception owing to aggressive mergers and acquisitions including CSX World Terminals and P&O Terminals.
The company is a subsidiary of Dubai World and has many agreements with sister concerns to improve customer experiences. DPW also has other interests including managing free trade zones, auxiliary maritime services, counter-piracy measures, and supply chain security. It also actively takes part in expansion efforts to further its interests in other domains. The main strategy applied by DPW is to consolidate ports in regions with an already established trade presence.
4. AP Møller Terminals
The Hague, Netherlands
Owned by the Maersk Group operating out of the Netherlands, APM Terminals is a global name in the port industry. It operates 74 ports in 58 countries. With several projects currently ongoing, APM is a leader in port operations.
It has strong relations with the other sister companies that operate under the Maersk group, allowing it to expand globally. It also provides numerous services for global shipping lines through ventures such as Terminal and Inland Services Network and the Global Ports. It provides services to over 60 lines and has several port interests in the US under the SeaLand M&A.
APM has been hailed as an innovator in the field of shipping and terminals with several projects underway to automate their ports. Several key ports have already received this technology. It also aims to reduce its overall carbon and emission by 2050 alongside many of the other Maersk interests.
5. China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO)
Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Operated under the COSCO Group, COSCO Shipping Ports Ltd. is a major player in the global ports and terminal field. It merged with the China Shipping Group in 2016 and undertook further expansion. It owns and operates over a thousand vessels that call at thousands of ports around the globe. It has the third-largest group of container ships in the commercial sector and is one of the leading Chinese companies dealing in shipping. It operates terminals in several countries in Asia and the Americas with designated divisions to handle each of the regions.
The COSCO Shipping Ports division deals with handling container cargo arriving at its terminals on a daily basis. It also has operations out of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, and Japan that caters to shipping in their respective regions. The company also deals in shipbuilding, repair, maintenance, freight handling, and other auxiliary services. It has numerous interests in other domains including the trade, finance, container handling, real estate, and IT sector. COSCO has taken part in several major mergers and acquisitions in an effort to consolidate its position as a top terminal operator.
6. China Merchants Port Holdings Company
People’s Republic of China
The China Merchants Ports is a major terminal operator and shipping firm that has its headquarters in Hong Kong, China. It has numerous interests in the maritime sector including port management, terminal operation, cargo transportation, logistics, and supply chain management. It is also invested in the air cargo and paint production sectors.
It operates primarily in and around China and has bases in several prominent locations. It operates from the ports of Qingdao, Tianjin, Shanghai, Ningbo Zhoushan, and Shenzhen, which are all classified as the busiest and largest ports in the world. It has operations in the Pearly River Delta that witnesses container traffic from all over the world due to its proximity to several important Straits and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This company makes it to our top terminals list due to the large stake it has in the Chinese port sector and the large trade volume that passes through it on a daily basis.
7. Terminal Investment Limited (TIL)
Having completed nearly 2 decades in the terminal industry, TIL is one of the largest port management and terminal operation companies with bases and services all around the world. It currently has 37 operating terminals and a further 2 in development.
TIL primarily services ships owned and operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). Its services include berth securing, terminal management, and other auxiliary functions. It also takes on other companies for terminal management on a contractual basis.
TIL’s terminals are located in geographically important regions that witnesses a large influx and outflow of container vessels. It operates in several transshipment hubs in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It also operates in several key ports and services major shipping routes and lines. These reasons make it a fast-growing company with the potential for further global expansion.
8. International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI)
ICTSI is a port management firm based out of the Philippines that has been involved in the terminal and port operations industry for over 30 years. It has bases in 18 different countries and operates 18 terminals in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions.
It deals with up to 3 million TEUs annually in addition to processing other types of bulk and loose cargo. It operates numerous terminals within its home base in the Philippines and has began large scale global expansion. Outside this base, it primarily services ports in South America and Africa. It is considered to be one of the leading port terminal operators due to the rapid development and increasing global presence.
9. Eurogate Container Terminal Ltd.
Eurogate is a majorly European terminal operator that works out of Bremen, Germany. Although it was a leading terminal firm, it has witnessed a significant decline owing to its limited customer base during the last decade.
Eurogate operates mainly within Europe and has terminals in Bremen, Hamburg, Limassol, Salerno, and Lisbon in addition to another four European terminals. Outside Europe, it has only a single base in Tangier, Morocco. It faced problems associated with expansion from its rival port operators in the 2000s, and thus lost much of its market share. However, in an effort to expand, it has now begun working on setting up operations in other neighbouring nations outside Europe. Out of the companies on this list, it is by far the smallest. However, it has bases in important regions of Europe that make it a significant operator in the field.
10. Evergreen Marine Corporation (EMC)
Taoyuan City, Taiwan
EMC is a Taiwanese firm that deals in a large variety of maritime and shipping related activities. It is involved in container handling, transportation, shipping, port management, container manufacturing, shipbuilding, and real estate. It has operations in several countries through its shipping and terminal divisions, including in Taiwan (Uniglory Marine), Evergreen UK (UK), and Italia Maittima (Italy) that jointly operate.
It operates two main classes of terminals- transhipment hubs, and other container hubs. Two transhipment hubs are based primarily out of Taiwan, namely Taichung and Kaohsiung Container Terminals. There is another facility called the Colon Container Terminal based in Panama. Their other container terminals in the US are based in California (Evergreen Los Angeles Terminal and Oakland Evergreen Terminal), and Washington (Tacoma Evergreen Pierce County Container Terminal). There are several major container terminals in Asia (Thailand, Taiwan), Europe (Italy, UK), and the Middle East.
EMC also operates a highly successful shipping line that services destinations all over the world including Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. It operates a fleet of 150 container vessels that call at over 200 ports.
11. SSA Marine
Washington, United States
SSA Marine is an American terminal operator that is predominantly based out of markets in and around the US. It has operations across five continents and services 250 various locations. Outside the US, it has interests and operations in Mexico, Panama, and Chile. It has also made initial investments into the South East Asian region in an effort to expand globally.
It provides several other services in addition to terminal operation. It offers terminal management, rail yard operations, technology design, warehousing, feasibility studies, and equipment procurement. It has numerous interests in auxiliary maritime sectors and is rapidly aiming at expanding its operations into Europe and Asia.
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