AAPA Seaports Advisory

Port Traffic Metrics: Green Bay, Los Angeles, Oakland, U.S. Great Lakes/Seaway

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Green Bay: Cargo Tonnage Up in July, Down Year to Date

Port of Green Bay cargo tonnage increased 10 percent in July but lagged 2015 levels year to date. Fueling the July gains were inbound shipments of domestically sourced limestone, salt, and petroleum, according to Port Director Dean Hain.

Year-to-date tonnage was down 15 percent from the comparable 2015 period, "largely due to reduced demand for coal, resulting from low-cost natural gas." However, "we’re only halfway through the shipping season, and shipments vary month to month, so we’re hopeful there will be a rebound in the coming months."    

Sixty-six ships called Green Bay from March through July, nine fewer than last year. The difference, according to Mr. Hain, is explained by this year’s higher water levels, which "allow a single ship to carry more tonnage than usual, decreasing the number of ships needed."  

Los Angeles: July Import Gains, Year-to-Date Volume up 4.8%

Container traffic data for July reported by the Port of Los Angeles show gains from a year ago for imports, but a decline in throughput overall, mostly due to a drop in empty container movements.

"As retailers prepare for consumer needs during the holiday season, we’re encouraged to see import volumes increase," said Port Executive Director Gene Seroka. "We are prepared along with our supply chain stakeholders to handle cargo with speed, efficiency and first-class service as we kick off our traditional busy season."

In detail, the July numbers include imports totaling 368,696 TEUs (+5.2 percent), exports at 132,490 TEUs (-2.9 percent), and throughput overall, including empties, of 687,891 TEUs (-1.6 percent). Throughput for the year through July totaled just over 4.8 million TEUs, up 4.8 percent from the first seven months of CY 2015.

View detailed Port of Los Angeles container traffic data.

Oakland: July Port’s Busiest Month in 10 Years

This July the Port of Oakland experienced its busiest container traffic month in 10 years. The July box tally, 223,619 20-TEUs, was up 8.8 percent from a year ago and the most handled since August 2006.

In July as well, exports increased for the sixth time in seven months, up 3.6 percent from a year ago. Empty container volume also rose as shipping lines re-positioned boxes in preparation for an anticipated uptick in peak-season traffic.

Throughput for the 7 months of 2016 rose 6.4 percent compared to January-July 2015, with gains of 9.1 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, for exports and imports.

"The numbers are encouraging and with holiday shipments set to commence, this could be the start of something good," said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll.

St. Lawrence Seaway Traffic Sluggish, Ports Busy in July

Halfway through the 2016 season, Seaway cargo tonnage was off 11 percent from a year ago, largely because of a downturn in coal and iron ore traffic, according to U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton. However, she notes, "international traffic continues to be well above the five-year average, keeping our ports and their workforces busy."

That includes aluminum shipments at the ports of Oswego, Toledo, and Detroit; wind turbine components at the Port of Ogdensburg; machinery and steel products at the ports of Burns Harbor, Chicago and Milwaukee; agricultural products such as soybeans, corn and wheat, loaded at Duluth, Burns Harbor and Toledo; and containerized and general cargo departing Cleveland.

Emmert International took advantage of the heavy lift dock capability and intermodal assets of the Port of Milwaukee to move an extraordinarily large piece of cargo in July. Specifically, it arranged for the transportation of a 650,000 pound platen via deck barge from Canada through the Seaway system to Milwaukee and then via CP Rail to Scot Forge in Spring Grove, Illinois. Wikipedia describes a platen as "a flat platform with a variety of roles in printing or manufacturing."

"Despite some slowness in the market to start the season, the Port of Cleveland has seen steady growth in our month to month tonnage numbers thus far in the 2016 season," said David S. Gutheil, the port authority’s vice president, maritime and logistics. "We continue to see steady volumes on imported steel from Europe, while consistently bringing on new customers via the Cleveland-Europe Express, particularly in the container segment."

According to Mr. Gutheil, the port is receiving increasing numbers of inquiries from customers seeking to move project cargo via the St. Lawrence Seaways and plans to use a newly constructed 21,000 square foot warehouse in its pursuit of "trans-load opportunities."

The Seaway agency reports cargo shipments from its March 21 opening through July 31 totaled 13.2 million metric tons, down 11 percent from the comparable period of the 2015 shipping season. Coal, iron ore and general cargo each posted double-digit decline, while potash, stone, and steel slabs were sharply higher.

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