AAPA Seaports Advisory

Port Traffic Metrics: Georgia, Seattle/Tacoma, Windsor

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Georgia Double Digit Cargo Growth in February

The Georgia Ports Authority last month experienced its busiest February ever with throughput totaling 2.94 million short tons. That was up 10 percent from February 2016, and second only to this January's 3.01 million tons.

Containerized cargo alone jumped 14.4 percent to more to more than 2.5 million tons for the month. The box count also increased, by 7.7 percent to 330,539 TEUs.

"Ocean carriers have recognized the Port of Savannah as the must-call port to serve the Southeastern U.S.," GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch reported to the Authority Board Monday. "With the coming realignment of the shipping alliances in April, Savannah will offer more container services than any other East Coast or Gulf port, at 35 weekly vessel calls."

Savannah's Ocean Terminal also achieved significant growth in February, with a 9.2 percent increase in breakbulk cargo, led by linerboard, iron and steel, and autos.

"A 38 percent increase in iron and steel is a good leading indicator of future growth in construction, as well as automobile and other manufacturing," Mr. Lynch said.

At its March meeting, the GPA board approved a power grid upgrade to provide greater resiliency and capacity for electric-powered equipment at Garden City Terminal. Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy said the Port of Savannah's continuing shift away from diesel saves the authority millions of dollars annually in energy costs and avoids tons of diesel emissions.

Tacoma/Seattle: NWSA Container Volumes Up 8% through February Despite Fewer Sailings

The Northwest Seaport Alliance recorded an 8 percent year-to-date increase in container traffic cargo through February at its terminals in Tacoma and Seattle despite a dip in vessel calls.

International container volumes rose a 9.1 percent year-to-date increase despite fewer sailings, with gains of 4.0 percent export-laden containers exports and 7.4 percent for imports compared to January-February 2016.

As anticipated, the Alliance saw fewer vessel arrivals and amended service schedules by ocean carriers in February due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which began more than 10 days earlier than last year. In observance of the holiday, the factories in China traditionally shut down production for up to two weeks.

In detail, the February data show TEU declines from a year ago of 4.2 percent for imports, 6.8 percent for exports, and 7.8 percent for domestic containers. Alaska volumes, down 5.2 percent since January, are expected to fall 5 to 6 percent this year due to soft market conditions. Modest growth is forecast for Pacific Northwest trade with Hawaii.

As for other sectors, the Alliance blames market condition for declines in breakbulk cargo and auto traffic. To learn more, click on Container volumes – February 2017 and Cargo statistics – February 2017.

Windsor Port Traffic Slows in 2016

Cargo traffic declined last year at the Port of Windsor, almost entirely due to the wind down of construction on the customs plaza that will service the new Gordie Howe International bridge between Windsor and Detroit. That work had spurred a more than 50 percent upsurge in the port’s construction aggregates cargo traffic in 2015. With its completion, aggregate volumes fell by almost 30 percent in 2016, resulting in 15.5 percent drop in port tonnage overall.

"Any declines in traffic are always disappointing, but in this case, we were certainly expecting the drop-off in construction aggregates with the near-completion of the early works at the Bridge," said Port Authority CEO David Cree, PPM®. "We are anticipating that once construction starts on the bridge itself, we will see a further surge in construction aggregates during those years."

Among last year’s bright spots were steel imports and grain shipments, with increases from 2015 of 28 percent and 24 percent, respectively. In addition, petroleum products handled through the Sterling Marine Fuels dock increased by about 3.0 percent.

Other important milestones during 2016 included the on-going rehabilitation of a park and fishing pier, the acquisition of green space adjacent to the port authority’s offices for community purposes, and the purchase in partnership with the Windsor Police Services of a new 25-foot WAC SAFE Boat to hance marine patrol capabilities on the Detroit  River.

"All-in-all," said Mr. Cree, "despite the significant decline in total port traffic, 2016 was a very productive and positive year for the port in many ways. We are looking forward to slightly higher cargo volumes in 2017 and with virtually all of the revenue earned by the port authority being re-invested into our community, we will continue to be a leader in the economic and social well-being of the City of Windsor."


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