Port Traffic Metrics: Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, U.S. Seaway/Great Lakes

Long Beach Container Counts Soft in November

Shifting alliance routes and the Hanjin bankruptcy continue to affect Port of Long Beach, with November container volume down 13.8 percent from a year ago to 534,308 TEUs. That included declines for imports (-11.8 percent), exports (-3.1 percent), and empty containers (-24.2 percent). The year-to-date 6,226,242 TEUs fell 5.6 percent compared to the first 11 months of 2015.

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The port experienced its second-best November ever in 2015, part of a six-month run of gains to end the year above 7 million TEUs for only the third time in its history. This year the port has faced challenges as ocean carriers have merged, reorganized into new alliances and realigned routes. Additionally, a major customer, Hanjin Shipping, declared bankruptcy in August.

Hanjin Shipping accounted for 12.3 percent of Long Beach’s containerized volume and held a 54 percent stake in Total Terminals International, the operator of Pier T, one of the port’s largest and most modern terminals.

Los Angeles: November TEUs Set Record for Second Consecutive Month

Container throughput at the Port of Los Angeles set a Western Hemisphere record for the second month in a row. This November’s 877,564 TEUs eclipsed the previous record by a substantial margin and exceeded the November 2015 total by up 23.6 percent.

"We are grateful to the cargo owners who see the value in this trade corridor, and to our container terminal customers, labor and other supply chain partners who, working together, efficiently processed this extraordinary surge of holiday season cargo," said Port Executive Director Gene Seroka. "Their ability to handle this much volume is a testament to the resiliency and competitiveness of this gateway."

In detail, the November data show increases from a year ago of 25 percent for exports, 22 percent for imports, and 26 percent for empty containers. Throughput for the first 11 months of 2016 stood at 8,060,246 TEUs, an increase of 7 percent compared January-November 2015. Click here for the port’s current and past container counts.

Oakland: Exports Up 11.5 Percent in November

The Port of Oakland reports the upward trend for containerized exports continued through November, with TEU volume up 11.5 percent from a year ago to 85,915 TEUs. It was port’s third consecutive month of double-digit growth, 10th monthly rise this year, and second highest export total of 2016.

The port s attributes the surge to "strong Asian demand for California farm products, wine and other products." It comes despite a strengthening dollar that makes American products more expensive overseas.

"If you listen to conventional wisdom, exports should be facing headwinds," said Maritime Director John Driscoll. "But the clamor overseas for high-quality American commodities hasn’t peaked, so our volumes keep climbing."
Data for the first 11 months show gains 11 percent for exports, 4.5 percent for imports, and 7.4 percent for loaded containers over all compared to January-November 2015. Exports account for 52 percent and imports for 48 percent of total loaded container TEUs.

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Traditional and Project Cargoes Transit the St. Lawrence Seaway in November

November was a good month for agricultural product and aluminum ingot shipments via the Great Lakes Seaway System, according to the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The U.S. ports of Toledo, Duluth/Superior, Burns Harbor and Milwaukee loaded corn, soybeans and wheat for export to Europe, South America, and Central America. Oswego and Toledo received aluminum ingots imported by local manufacturers supporting the automobile industry.

The Port of Toledo has experienced an upsurge in coal, petroleum and general cargo consisting mainly of steel, project loads, bulk materials in super sacks, and aluminum.

"2016 will be a record-breaking year for aluminum volumes through Toledo," said Joe Cappel, PPM®, 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’ M/V Marsgracht called the Port of Monroe to load 130 empty containers, which had been collected throughout the season from around the Great Lakes region. Earlier in the year, in preparation for 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.

"This container handling evolution was an enormous success for the Port of Monroe and DRM Terminal Services," said Port Director Paul LaMarre. "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-month in 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. 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."

Reports Port of Oswego Executive Director Zelko Kirincich: "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."

Some 30.3 million metric tons of cargo transited the Seaway from March 21 to November 30, a 5.9 percent decline from the comparable 2015 period. Bulk shipments fell 13 percent, with iron ore down nearly 11 percent and coal down 18 percent. General cargo overall was down 6 percent despite a 42 percent jump in project cargo movements. Liquid bulks were up 18 percent compared to last year.