India’s mortifying Covid-19 crisis is menacing the ongoing operations at some of its biggest ports. These inflating concerns could trigger shipping holdups that reflect through global supply chains. 

India’s Covid crisis hits work at its biggest ports as a risk to trade grows

Southern India’s Karaikal Port bid the force majeure until May 24 after operations were “severely affected” by the pandemic, as per a notice on its website. The terminal, which declares to be India’s biggest non-state port, markets coal, sugar and petroleum among other goods. Gopalpur port in Odisha has also announced force majeure, according to IHS Markit.

The circumstances may reverberate the global trade disturbances after seeing last year’s virus restrictions delayed shipments into China. While India accounts for the only portion of the global trade that China does, any delays in offloading vessels and delivering them to their next destination could formulate supply chain bottlenecks. A force majeure clause typically releases a company from meeting its contractual commitments for reasons surpassing its restraint.

As per IHS Markit, associate director Pranay Shukla, India has 21.9 million tons of cargoes catalogued to arrive this month but with labour curtailments and force majeure at some ports, many of the vessels could see release delays. That may affect scheduled storage in the exporting countries.

According to G. Veeramohan, president of the Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and IndustryCargo movement at Visakhapatnam Port, one of India’s major marine terminals, is also partly swayed after the local traders’ body declared force majeure in the port area until May 19.

State-run refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp., which manages the Visakhapatnam port to ship crude oil, is steady as it utilises an offshore mooring facility for unloading tankers, Chairman Mukesh Kumar Surana stated.

Large parts of India are under lockdown by provincial governments that are spinning from arising infections among a shortage of vaccines and medical support such as hospital beds and oxygen. The stay-at-home orders are stifling the movement of people and materials to and from the country’s ports, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government holds a nationwide lockdown.