More than 140 bulk carriers of 15,000 dwt and over are at anchor off Indonesian coal exporting ports as fresh quarantine restrictions lead to loading delays and rapidly escalating congestion. Vessel-tracking shows that bulk carriers totaling 9.9 MDWT, including 83 panamax bulk carriers and a further 46 supramax vessels, are currently queuing off key terminals on east and southern Kalimantan, Indonesia, according to data compiled by Lloyd’s List.

Only a handful of vessels were tracked at anchor in each of these areas earlier this month before news of the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant emerged, based on congestion counts in early December. Indonesian authorities have announced a compulsory, 14-day quarantine for vessels that have called at certain countries, resulting in fixture cancellations this week and escalating loading days, according to unverified reports.

Since November 29, Indonesia has restricted entry to foreigners who have visited 11 countries in Africa in the prior 14 days. Most of these delayed shipments are reportedly destined for Hong Kong. In relation to congestion, the largest numbers have been seen at the Taboneo Banjarmasin, Samarinda and Kaliorang anchorages, data show. Adding to the delays were tsunami warnings, which were lifted on December 14.

Rates to ship coal to Indonesia from Hong Kong via a round voyage have gained over the past two weeks, rising to $22,638 per day on December 14, compared with $19,650 on December 1, according to assessments from the Baltic Exchange. Rates have dipped over the fourth quarter from a 2021 high of $38,563 daily on October 22, data show. Supramax rates on the Indonesia-India route have also climbed since late November, and are at $23,183 daily, but much lower than the five-year high of nearly $40,000 daily seen on September 1.

Indonesia is the world’s second-largest coal exporter after Australia and the biggest shipper of thermal coal used for power. Exports from Indonesia so far in 2021 are estimated at 348 MMT, according to the most recent monthly research from London shipbrokers Simpson Spence & Young.

Congestion at discharging terminals in China also remains elevated as restrictions on crews there also delay bulk carriers. Some 265 bulk carriers totaling 20.2 MDWT are tracked at anchor off northern China, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data compiled by Lloyd’s List. This figure shows no signs of unwinding; congestion in the same region totaled 250 ships of 19.8 MDWT on October 22, data show.