May 22 - According to the latest Container Insight report from analyst Drewry, although slow-steaming continues to be a contentious issue with shippers, more is on the way as fuel prices remain stubbornly high and ocean carriers can no longer absorb the b

In its report, Drewry says that it believes ocean carriers are losing money due to the freight rate battle taking place in the east-west trades, and are still confronted with surplus capacity.

Drewry's report states: "At the end of April, there were still 31 ships of over 10,000 teu due for delivery this year, and carriers are running out of places to hide unwanted 8,000 teu vessels cascaded out of the Asia-Europe trade lane."

The reports says cargo growth between Asia and the US and Asia and east coast South America is insufficient, which means that either more vessels will have to be laid-up, or further slow-steaming introduced.

"With east-west freight rates plummeting to sub-economic levels again, ocean carriers can return to the view that 'shippers get the service they pay for' by further releasing pressure on their vessels' accelerators."

The analyst estimates overall vessel speeds remained more-or-less constant between September and March, although Drewry's research shows that there were wide variances at individual schedule level, depending on the extent of port optimisation required.

Drewry also believes that further vessel reductions between Asia and Europe and between Asia and the US, should be expected soon. It will result in longer transit times, but schedule reliability should improve due to the greater opportunity for making up lost time."