Sudan unrest poses no immediate risk to shipping
Hiked war risk premiums will hit international owners. Non-local trade accounts for just over 80% of Sudan’s commercial maritime traffic and most voyages to Sudan begin in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data
The decision by war risk underwriters to designate Sudan a high-risk area will have little immediate impact on shipping in the area, but security experts say that those shipping companies continuing to call in the war torn country are now on high alert
THE conflict in Sudan presents a limited immediate threat to shipping despite being labelled a high-risk area by war risk underwriters, according to security experts.
However, operators are now on high alert in case the situation further deteriorates and some services have already been pulled.
London insurers added Sudan to their list of high-risk areas on Wednesday following a meeting of the Lloyd’s and International Underwriting Association’s Joint War Committee which raised concerns over the unpredictability of the fighting, increased possibility of a prolonged conflict and imminent potential for deterioration.
The decision requires shipowners to notify underwriters of any voyages to Sudan with additional war-risk premiums added as a result.
The impact of the additional premiums is likely to be relatively limited given that some owners have already started avoiding the country and those that remain have added surcharges.
Container line Maersk said yesterday it had stopped taking new bookings from Sudan, citing the “significant impact on logistics operations” of clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid.
Vessels from container lines MSC and CMA CGM had also called at Port Sudan over the past 12 months, data shows.
Premiums depend on several factors and are agreed out of discussions between ship operators and underwriters.
CMA CGM announced an extra risk coverage surcharge of $500 per teu effective May 1 for vessels travelling to Sudan.
The country’s main port of Port Sudan reopened on April 18 but there is a backlog of at least six tankers at anchor outside the port, vessel-tracking shows. Crude exports from Sudan and South Sudan are estimated at 200,000 barrels per day in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report.
“For now, it seems the JWC’s decision to add Sudan to their listed areas will have little impact on shipping in the area,” said BIMCO’s Head of Maritime Safety & Security, Jakob Larsen.
“Should the situation in the Sudanese coastal areas deteriorate, this will of course change for ships destined for Sudan.”
Clashes between armed factions caused Port Sudan to close briefly last week with activities resuming on April 18.
“The port is operating as normal,” Amir Hassan Ahmed, a P&I claims handler with Sudanese company Mutual Marine Services al-Mushtaraka, said in an email.
A change in circumstances on the ground has the potential to raise the threat level for commercial shipping.
“It can’t be ruled out that the instability of the Sudanese government may in the short term have cascading effects also in the ports,” said Mr Larsen.
The Joint War Committee’s decision to add Sudan to the listed areas should be seen in this light, he added.
Non-local trade accounts for just over 80% of Sudan’s commercial maritime traffic and the majority of voyages to Sudan begin in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data.
Port Sudan’s terminals are the busiest, handling around 90% of the country’s exports and imports.
The port is being used by foreign states as an evacuation hub.
Sudan’s commercial maritime traffic is handled by three ports: Port Sudan, Sawakin and Marsa Bashayer.
The ports, combined, received 1,153 merchant vessels in 2022 and have recorded 357 calls so far this year. General cargoships and unitised vessels account for more than half of arrivals.
Fighting, which is centred in and around Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, erupted between the army and the Rapid Support Forces militia on April 15.