AAPA Seaports Advisory

Cargo News: Oakland, Great Lakes

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Port of Oakland Sets All-Time Record for Loaded Containers in 2016

Loaded shipping container volume reached an all-time high at the Port of Oakland in 2016. The Port reported that it handled the equivalent of 1.83 million loaded 20-foot containers last year. That was up 7.6 percent from 2015, topping the previous record of 1.82 million 20-footers set in 2013.

The Port attributed the milestone to a year-long containerized export boom as well as growth in imports.  It said the record is important on two fronts:
  • Loaded container volume is a key measure used to calculate fees paid by Oakland’s marine terminal tenants.

  • Increased volume means the Port gained, instead of lost business in 2016 though it consolidated five terminals into four.
"This is a gratifying outcome," said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. "The job now is clear – build on the momentum we created in 2016."

The Port said its total 2016 volume equaled 2.37 million 20-foot containers, up 4 percent from 2015.  Total volume includes full and empty containers.

Containerized export volume jumped 10.5 percent in 2016, the Port said.  In December, exports were up 13.5 percent.  It was the fourth straight month of double-digit export growth.

Oakland import volume increased 4.7 percent last year, the Port said.  December imports were up 6.1 percent.

The Port said exports accounted for 52 percent of Oakland’s loaded container volume in 2016.  Imports accounted for the rest.

November Includes Many Highlights for St. Lawrence Seaway/Great Lakes Ports

"November was a good month for the export of agricultural products and shipments of aluminum ingots on the Great Lakes Seaway System," said Betty Sutton, Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. "Under the binational trade development program known as ‘Highway H2O’, the U.S. and Canadian Seaway Corporations have raised international awareness about the advantages of exporting grain products via the Great Lakes Seaway System and it is paying off."

Through November, the Port of Toledo has seen a considerable increase in coal, petroleum, and general cargo shipments over the 2015 year-to-date totals. General cargo shipments were mainly comprised of steel, project cargo, super sacks of various bulk materials and aluminum. "2016 will be a record-breaking year for aluminum volumes through Toledo," said Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. "We thought that 2015 was a great year for aluminum and we have now exceeded those volumes by over 40 percent. The aluminum arrives from eastern Canada by water and feeds the manufacturing industry in this region. The Port of Toledo plays a critical role in this massive supply chain and we have capacity to handle even more."

In early November, the Spliethoff Lines vessel, M/V Marsgracht, called at the Port of Monroe to load empty containers which had been collected throughout the season from around the Great Lakes region. Earlier in the year, in preparation for future container activities planned for 2017, the Port’s terminal operator, DRM Terminal Services, invested in reach-stackers, container trailers, and other necessary equipment to handle containerized cargo in high volume. The 130 containers loaded in November represents the largest single load volume handled by any port in recent years except for Cleveland. Port Director Paul LaMarre said, "This container handling evolution was an enormous success for the Port of Monroe and DRM Terminal Services. Whether loaded or empty these containers represented increased activity across our docks and proved that the Port of Monroe is strategically positioned and highly capable to handle increased volume next season."

November Seaway cargoes at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor were the highest for any single-month within the last five years. "We had a significant increase in ocean shipments this past month – up 50 percent from last November and over 80 percent from the previous month," said Port Director Rick Heimann. "This included steel-related products for Midwest manufacturers and raw materials for the steel industry as well as two ships loaded with over 45,000 tons of Indiana grain bound for world markets. The port’s ability to handle global shipments also creates advantages for moving large-dimensional shipments by water into the heart of the Midwest. Our November cargoes included several 200-foot molds for wind turbine blades, a competitive sailing yacht for an upcoming boat show and two 10-ton freezers for an Indiana food processor."

"In compiling tonnage totals for November, it was heartening for us here at the Head of the Lakes to finally see an uptick in iron ore shipments," said Vanta Coda, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "We all know it’s been a slow, painful climb out of last year’s mining industry downturn. Seeing pellets pick up pace through the Port of Duluth-Superior is encouraging. The steady stream of grain shipments continues, as well—up nearly 25 percent over the Port’s five-year YTD average." Coincidentally, with the increase in outbound shipments of iron ore and grain, the number of vessel visits by Canadian lakers is up 15 percent this year."

Port of Oswego Executive Director and CEO, Zelko Kirincich said the port had a busy month of November. "Nearly 4,000 metric tons of aluminum shipped into the port in two shipments from Sept Iles, Quebec, Canada. The aluminum was delivered to the local Novelis Plant which makes the aluminum sheets used in the assembly of the Ford F-150 trucks, as well as for other uses. We anticipate a strong close to the 2016 shipping season."

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date cargo shipments for the period March 21 to November 30 were 30.3 million metric tons, down 5.89 percent over the same period in 2015. The dry bulk category was down 13 percent. Iron ore was down almost 11 percent; coal was down 18 percent. The general cargo category was down 6 percent overall, but within that classification, project cargo posted a 42 percent increase. The liquid bulk category was at 19 percent over 2015.


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