AAPA Seaports Advisory

Port Traffic Metrics: Great Lakes, Seattle/Tacoma

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Great Lakes: U.S. Ports See Slower Beginning to Shipping Season

U.S. Great Lakes ports have been busy but the 2016 shipping season has been slower than anticipated, according to the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership.

"Although the overall cargo numbers remain down when compared to the same time frame last year, in June we were above the five-year average," said Betty Sutton, administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "Imports arriving in the Great Lakes Seaway System kept longshoremen busy during the month of June. About 45 ships arrived from 19 different countries with high value cargo like windmill components, machinery, aluminum ingots, steel, sugar, and general cargo. Prior to leaving the system, vessels loaded export cargos that consisted of wheat, corn, soybeans, potash and general cargo loaded in containers."  

"New shipments of intermodal cranes helped drive June’s maritime port cargo numbers above the same period last year," said Rick Heimann, port director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. "We’ve had multiple large cranes and containers of crane components arrive by ship from Europe that will be used to handle containers in multiple intermodal yards around the Midwest. June cargo volumes were also helped by new outbound shipments of recycled rubber and strong volumes of bulk commodities for use in the steel-making process by ArcelorMittal."

"Both steel and agricultural products continued to move at a strong pace through the Port of Milwaukee in June," said Paul Vornholt, port director of the Port of Milwaukee. "Additionally, the port has just completed reconstruction and upgrades on two Class 1 rail lines serving port tenants and terminals. In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the port invested nearly $3 million on this project which will maximize our multi-modal connections and make it easier for our customers to move their products through the Seaway."

"In June, the Port of Oswego received one shipment of aluminum totaling 10,500 metric tons," said Zelko Kirincich, executive director and CEO. The cargo was discharged from a McKeil Marine barge and delivered to the Novelis plant for use in the automotive sector. Mr. Kirincich is expecting "more activity" in July and August. Seaway cargo traffic from March through June 30 totaled 9.9 million metric tons, a 7.7 percent drop from the comparable 2015 period. Dry bulks alone declined by almost 8 percent despite increases of 10 percent for cement, 27 percent for potash, and 88 percent for scrap metal. Steel throughput jumped 108 percent but general cargo fell 8 percent from last year.

Northwest Seaport Alliance Import Container Volumes See Boost in June

The Northwest Seaport Alliance reports import container volume set a June record, up 4.0 percent from a year ago. The Alliance, which manages maritime cargo operations at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, anticipates a modest boost this summer and fall as retailers prepare for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

Year-to-date, full import containers rose by 1.1 percent and full export containers by 12.2 percent from their January-June 2015 levels. Domestic container traffic fell 10.8 percent due to "the weakened Alaskan economy."  Total volume through June dropped 2.6 percent to 1,681,441 TEUs.

As for other traffic, the alliance reports declines of 36 percent in breakbulk  cargo and 4 percent in auto imports.

View details, see Container volumes – June 2016 and Cargo statistics – June 2016.


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