Beirut Recovery: Vessel Arrivals Gradually Resume

Sept. 11, 2020

 |  Insights

On August 4, 2020, a catastrophic explosion occurred at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon at around 6pm local time, causing over 190 deaths, over 6,500 injuries and countless of destroyed properties around the port area. Subsequent investigations found that the explosion was the result of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port catching on fire.

The Port of Beirut is one of the largest and busiest seaports in the eastern Mediterranean. The damage to the port facilities undoubtedly hampered the port’s operation capacity. Many carriers, including Maersk and CMA CGM, frequent the port. However, directly following the explosion, carriers redirected their sailings to other ports in the area, including the Port of Tripoli located north of Beirut in Lebanon.

In just a week after the devastating incident, the Port of Beirut resumed partial operations to secure goods for local markets. Container vessels slowly returned to the port once again. One month after the devastating incident, we analyzed the port performance of Beirut and Tripoli from July 26 through August 29 to determine how operations have been impacted.

Vessels Continued to Arrive at Beirut After Explosion 

18 vessels, with a capacity of over 300 TEUs arrived at the Port of Beirut during the week before the explosion. During the week of the explosion, five vessels arrived, and the number of vessel arrivals started to increase in the weeks following the incident. While Tripoli is a nearby alternate port, only two vessels with a capacity of over 300 TEUs were actually diverted to the port. 

Beirut Vessel Arrivals
Vessel Arrival Delays Increased in the Weeks Following the Explosion

Weekly average vessel arrival delays started to surpass the pre-explosion level of delays at Beirut in the second week after the explosion. By the week of August 23, the weekly average vessel arrival delay was 76% higher, or 16 hours longer, than during the week before the explosion.

While the number of vessel arrivals at Tripoli was quite small, the vessel arrivals ranged from no delay to nearly 3.5 days late during the studied period. 

Beirut Vessel Delays
Average Berth Times at Beirut Peaked During the Week of the Explosion

While weekly average vessel arrival delays gradually increased after the explosion, the average berth times were most prolonged during the week of the explosion and have since reduced by seven or more hours. In the weeks following the explosion, average berth times for vessels with a capacity of over 300 TEUs were shorter at Tripoli than at Beirut.

Beirut Vessel Berth Times

Beirut Operations Gradually Resumed 

With 18 vessel arrivals at Beirut before the explosion, and only reaching 5 to 13 vessels during the weeks after the explosion, it’s clear that several vessels skipped the port and have diverted cargo to alternate ports. Reducing the vessel arrivals appears to have eased the impact on operations at Beirut, with vessel arrival delays and berth times increasing, but remaining less than twice the average delays and berth times three weeks after the explosion than the week before the explosion. 

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