An explosion in eastern China that rocked one of the world’s busiest ports Wednesday poses some logistics problems despite resuming operations. Authorities and companies near the blast site in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin said to the Wall Street Journal Friday operations there were returning to normal. Still, bottlenecks remained for industries from steel production to oil refining.
Explosion at Major Chinese Port
Tianjin’s maritime authority said in an online post Friday that besides oil tankers and ships carrying what it termed hazardous materials, the port was operating normally. Berth operators reached by phone said the flow of goods had resumed. The port operator, Tianjin Port (Group) Co., referred questions to government officials.
Damage assessment in Tianjin was well under way Friday by major Chinese and foreign companies. China Eastern Air Holding Co said its facilities and a staff dormitory located about a mile from the ware- house blast were seriously damaged.
Four helicopters were also damaged.
Fatalities from the explosion reached 50 Wednesday night explosion, which happened at a company licensed to store hazardous chemicals, left more than 500 people wounded, 52 of them critically, and produced shock waves felt for miles.
The blast also sent the port city’s shipping containers tumbling into one another, leaving them in bent, charred piles. Rows of new cars, lined up on vast lots for distribution across China, were reduced to blackened carcasses.
Tianjin is the 10th-largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, moving more containers than the ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Los Angeles. It handles vast quantities of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.
By July 2015 warehouses of the port of Shanghai have accumulated more than 700 thousand cubic metres of lumber, according to Lesprom Network July 20.
This situation is due to a sharp drop in lumber prices in Egypt (decline was about 20 per cent from November 2014 to February 2015), were supplied lumber from Finland, Sweden, Germany and Russia, said Lesprom.
China Import Volumes
In April, the import volume of soft- wood lumber by China reached its second highest level on record as reported by the Wood Resource Quarterly June 12. Importation during the first four months this year was 2.1 per cent higher than in the same period last year, with Russian sawmills increasing their shipments by over 13 per cent. Import prices in April were at their lowest level since 2012.
Demand for imported softwood lumber in China for February showed import volumes were down to 860,000 cubic metres for the month, a two-year low. In just two months, shipments doubled to 1.7 million cubic metres for the month of April, the second highest monthly import volume on record.
Year-to-date import volumes were 2.1 per cent higher this year than during the same period in 2014, as reported in the Wood Resource Quarterly.
Overall, lumber import prices to China have trended downward in 2015 with the April average prices reaching their lowest level since late 2012. Prices for Nordic lumber have fallen steeper than those for lumber from other major supplying countries. Russian lumber (mostly pine) continues to be the lower value wood, while the average cost for lumber from the Nordic countries, Chile and New Zealand currently is almost twice as high.