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.
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.
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)
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)
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
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.