ContainerMaritimeNews

Port Report: Port of Oakland opens kimono as it seeks more container volumes

(Photo: Port of Oakland)

It’s Northern California versus Southern California traffic as port displays turn times; Brexiting remains bad for business, shipowners warn.

The Port of Oakland was one of the main beneficiaries of surge container volumes last year due to the strong U.S. economy and fears of higher tariffs on Chinese goods. The third-largest port on the U.S. West Coast, Oakland notched a 5 percent growth in container volumes last year, reaching 2.5 million twenty-foot equivalent (teu) in volumes handled. Demand for containership service to and from Oakland reached a six-year high in the fourth quarter, according to data from shipping analytics firm VesselsValue.

Still, the volumes coming through Oakland pale in comparison to the combined 17.4 million teu handled by Los Angeles and Long Beach ports last year. But amid concerns about freight backlogs and delays for truck drivers serving the Southern California ports, their Northern California rival is using radical transparency to make itself known to shippers as the faster, easier option on the West Coast.

This week, the Port unveiled a website that will tell shippers and drayage carriers about turn times at its four main container terminals. This step comes at a time when shippers and motor carriers are facing much rising costs due to detention and demurrage fees on container moves at other major ports. Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said the turn-time portal “helps take the guesswork out of scheduling for truckers, dispatchers and the owners of cargo that moves through Oakland.”

Along with highlighting faster turn times, Port of Oakland’s second-largest tenant terminal, TraPac, finished a $67 million project aimed at handling bigger ships and more cargo. TraPac  doubled the size of its terminal space, to 123 acres, added three more ship-to-shore cranes, and a third berth of mega-container vessels.  

The expansion TraPac handles about 15 percent of the containerized cargo moving through Oakland, with a big part of those movements are refrigerated cargo destined for Japan. Japanese liner operator Ocean Network Express is one of the main carriers serving the port with a 16 percent share of vessel movements, VesselsValue said.

Food exports to Japan moving through the Oakland gateway reached $2.76 billion over the first ten months of last year, an 8 percent increase over the same period of 2017. “We forecast continued cargo growth in Oakland, and we are ready for it,” said TraPac Operations Vice President Brian Bauer.

North Sea shipping volumes rise strongly  

Russia touted 25 percent increase in Arctic shipping thanks to new energy projects. (Splash 247)

Port of Houston notches container handling record

Houston area helped by imports, as well as growing exports of petrochemicals. (Vessel Finder)

Venezuela sanctions upend tanker trades

U.S. moves to block state oil company upsets usual transits for oil-related products. (TradeWinds)

Maersk further automates Suez terminal

APM Terminals looks to reduce dwell times through optimizing yard space. (MarineLink)

U.S. Coast Guard receives back pay

Official estimate of 42,000 service members went without pay during January. (Maritime Executive)

Brexit uncertainty weighs on U.K. carriers

Now with U.K Prime Minister Theresa May forced to go back to the table with negotiators in Brussels over her country’s exit from the European Union, the uncertainties continue unabated for U.K. shippers. The next vote is not scheduled until February 11, FreightWaves’ Nick Savvides reports. The further negotiations seek to ease the strain on U.K. businesses still seeking to do business with their European counterparts on terms they are already familiar with under European Union rules. But Savvides reports the lack of political consensus on revised trading terms means the country is likely heading for a base-case case scenario of an “accidental hard exit with companies now planning for that eventuality. Freight and trade are well and truly sold down the river, by the UK Government,” Savvides writes. Europe’s shipowners are naturally worried about the consequences for their business. The European Community Shipowners’ Association pleaded with May’s government “to be constructive and do their utmost to ensure the withdrawal agreement can be agreed to by all sides. If not, there will only be losers at all sides.”

 

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.

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