Ships anchor at sea to avoid a drilling area just outside the port of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan, said Jayendu Krishna, deputy chief of consultancy Drewry Maritime Advisors. The zone, one of the largest areas where China is conducting exercises, is 15 nautical miles from the entrance to the port.
Ship owners, concerned about the possibility of missile strikes, choose to shut down ships and burn extra fuel until the drills are over.
“They will avoid going to Kaohsiung for the next two to three days because that is directly in the line of fire,” Krishna said. “Some ships and dry bulk tankers have been asked to anchor and wait for orders.”
According to the vice president of the port, Su Jiann-rong, Kaohsiung is normal and there is no unusual congestion of ships off the coast. “The military exercises have had no effect so far,” he said, adding that empty piers are available in the port.
According to a statement from the Taiwan Ministry of Transport, no ships have canceled plans to enter or leave ports on Thursday.
The Taiwan Strait is a major supply chain route, with nearly half of the global container fleet passing through the waterway this year. As ships continue to navigate the strait during the military exercises, they navigate around the drilling zones.
Some shipowners have denied their ships access to the strait. According to knowledgeable traders, two suppliers of liquefied natural gas have informed the ships not to travel through the waterway until they can confirm military exercises have ended.
At least two very large oil tankers bound for Kaohsiung have been diverted to Sha Lung harbor on the north side of the island. The supertanker Barakah changed its destination from Kaohsiung to Sha Lung on Aug. 2, while the VLCC Ghinah also changed its route to avoid the military drilling zone.
Kaohsiung is a major gateway for ships picking up Taiwanese semiconductor chips, and it is also where state refinery CPC Corp. petrochemicals to manufacturers around the world, according to shipping experts.
Additional delays are likely to extend and ultimately affect shipments of Asian goods headed to the US, Drewry’s Krishna said.