AAPA Seaports Advisory

Port Traffic Metrics: Boston, Brownsville, Milwaukee, Metro Vancouver, Seattle/Tacoma, Virginia

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Boston’s Conley Container Terminal Breaks Record

2015 was a record year for the Massachusetts Port Authority’s Paul W. Conley Container Terminal in the Port of Boston, with throughput up 10.6 percent from the year before to an all-time high of 237,166 TEUs.

In detail, the 2015 data show across-the-board gains for imports (+8.3 percent), exports (+5.4 percent), and empty containers (+31.4 percent). Massport attributes the growth to a "strong regional economy" and "higher levels of productivity."

During the year, as well, Conley received calls from 8,000-TEU vessels operated by long-time Massport customers Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO). MSC Judith and COSCO Napoli are the largest containerships ever to visit the port of Boston.

Massport says the visits by these two large ships underscored the port’s need for deeper channels. The proposed Boston Harbor Improvement Project would dredge harbor’s channels and berths from their current 40-foot depths to 51/47 feet. So doing, says Massport, "will allow more imported goods to come directly into the Port of Boston and more New England exports to move out of the Port of Boston, thus helping to support jobs and generate economic impact."

Conley Terminal serves eight of the top 20 container lines in the world: Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), "K" Line, Yang Ming, Hanjin, Evergreen, Maersk Line and Hapag-Lloyd.  Containerized cargo at Conley Terminal includes seafood, beer and wine, furniture, apparel, and footwear.
"We are very pleased with the steady growth at Conley Terminal over the past several years," said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. "This milestone would not have been reached if not for the outstanding customer service provided by the hard working men and women at Conley Terminal. We also credit the terminal’s success to the strong relationships with our customers and partners, and to the support and leadership of Senators Warren and Markey, and Congressmen Capuano and Lynch."

Brownsville Achieves Record Year

Preliminary numbers indicate the Port of Brownsville in 2015 achieved another record-breaking cargo year in 2015.  The year-end tally of 10.1 million tons beat the port’s previous record, 8.4 million tons in 2014. International cargos include steel, aluminum, lumber, minerals, gasoline, diesel and windmill components.

"This is a critically important milestone in the port’s growth," said Brownsville Navigation District Chairman Ralph Cowen. "Not only does this performance recognize the strength of our customer base and the companies doing business here, but provides the port with an opportunity to continue its mission of creating jobs and a stronger tax base."

Brownsville port activity adds $926.7 million to the regional economy and more than $2 billion to the state's economy (Texas). Other economic impacts include more than $134 million in state and local sales tax as well as 11,230 direct and indirect jobs at the regional level, and 21,590 jobs statewide.

Milwaukee Cargo Again Tops 2.0 Million Tons

The Port of Milwaukee reports handling some 2.0 million metric tons of cargo in 2015, down from nearly 2.3 million tons in 2014.

It notes that grain volume "grew significantly" while salt tonnage also increased and salt remained the port’s top cargo by weight. Steel tonnage, though down from near record levels in 2014, ranked about the highest totals of the past decade.

"Cargo at the Port of Milwaukee is affected by world markets and local demand, and we certainly saw that last year," said Port Director Paul Vornholt. "The biggest change at the Port of Milwaukee last year was the decline in coal tonnage. With WE Energies conversion of the Valley Power Plant to natural gas, coal tonnages dropped by more than 80 percent."

Looking ahead, Mr. Vornholt said, "2016 begins with some uncertainty, but there is reason for optimism."

The port is an economic entity of Milwaukee city government and is governed by a seven-member board of harbor commissioners appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Common Council.

Diversification protects Port Metro Vancouver from full impact of economic downturn

Port Metro Vancouver’s 2015 year-end statistics show cargo volume remained steady at 138 million metric tons, with declines in some sectors offset by records in others.

Container throughput rose 5.0 percent an all-time high of 3.1 million TEUs, thanks to increased trade with Asia.  Records were set, too, by grain and agri-product exports (up 8 percent to 25.1 million tons) and potash exports (up 15.6 percent to 8.7 million tons).

Grain handlers and railways implemented measures to cope with significant increases in grain exports after the bumper year in 2014. Bulk specialty crop (lentils, pulses) volumes reached 3.5 million metric tons, an increase of 20 percent due to increased shipments to India and China.

Breakbulk metal imports (construction steel and fabricated components) declined during the second half due to lower capital investments in the energy sector, but the year-end total of 1.4 million tons made it port’s second best year for metals. Foreign forest product exports (logs, lumber, woodchips and woodpulp) ended the year at 10.9 million tons, a slight decrease from 2014. Coal volumes fell 8.0 due to reduced demand from China and the United States.

Comprehensive data are available in the port’s Statistics Overview 2015.

"These strong and consistent cargo volumes through Port Metro Vancouver demonstrate the diversification of the port and the Canadian economy," said Robin Silvester, President and Chief Executive Officer of Port Metro Vancouver. "In the last five years, the port has grown by the equivalent of the annual volume of Canada’s second largest port. And we anticipate that growth to continue at about the same rate over the next five years, despite the current slow-down." 

Seattle/Tacoma: New Year kicks off with NWSA Container Volumes Gains

International container volumes through the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) terminals in Seattle and Tacoma jumped 25 percent this January, with containerized imports up 33 percent and exports up 16 percent from January 2015 levels.

NWSA sees the volumes as evidence that shippers have returned to the Pacific Northwest following port congestion last year during contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association.

Domestic container volumes continued to decline in January, falling nearly 13 percent to 44,799 TEUs. The Alaska economy continues to struggle due to falling oil production and prices. Hawaii-bound cargo now moves through Southern California following the sale of Horizon Lines’ Hawaii business last year.

Container throughput for the month grew nearly 17 percent to 257,349 TEUs.

Other January data point to seasonal declines in breakbulk cargo and auto imports. Both breakbulk and auto imports are expected to grow in 2016.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

For further detail view Container volumes - January 2016 and Cargo statistics - January 2016.

Port of Virginia Volumes Up for the Fiscal Year, January

The Port of Virginia reports container volumes rose 3 percent from a year ago through January of the fiscal year that began July 1, 2015. A 6.5 percent jump was posted by containers handled by rail.

The January data show gains from January 2015 of 0.4 percent for TEUs, 1.2 percent for truck volume and 1.8 percent for ship calls.

Richmond Marine Terminal traffic posted double-digit increases, 45 percent for January and 13 percent for the fiscal year.  In January alone, RMT processed 1,295 containers.

 "Though modest, our volumes in January were the best on record for that month," said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. "We continue to track according to our forecast and it is our expectation that volumes for the balance of the winter and into the spring will be relatively flat."

 View a full traffic profile.


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