Friday, January 20, 2012

Port of Los Angeles Sees Modest Volume Growth in 2011

The Port of Los Angeles handled a total of 7.94 million twenty-foot equivalent unit containers in 2011, compared to 7.83 TEUs the year before, an increase of about 1.39 percent, according to newly-released data.

The most significant gain came in exports, which rose to 2.10 million in 2011, a 14.5 percent increase over the 1.84 million shipped in 2010. Total year-over-year imports grew 2.3 percent to 4.06 million in 2011 versus 3.97 million the year prior.

“It’s an example of how our port is prepared to handle a shift in global trade patterns,” port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said of the export numbers, which set a record for the second consecutive year.

December was a particularly strong month for the port, as volumes showed gains in all categories. Total December volumes, including empties, increased six percent to 649,468 TEUs compared to December 2010’s 612,651 TEUs.

Also, exports increased 9.2 percent to 176,530 TEUs compared to the previous December’s 161,625 TEUs. Additionally, imports increased 6.4 percent to 318,355 TEUs compared to December 2010’s 299,304 TEUs.

“We’re fortunate to have stronger year-over-year results in 2011 but we are not resting on our laurels,” LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a statement announcing the numbers. “We are investing $1.5 billion in capital improvements over the next five years. We’re going to create more than 20,000 construction jobs and keep infrastructure at the Port of Los Angeles unparalleled.”

The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest port in North America, just ahead of the adjoining Port of Long Beach. LA’s slight gain in total volume last year was in contrast to Long Beach, which earlier this week reported moving a total of 6.1 million TEUs in 2011, a 3.2 percent drop compared to 2010.

That decline, however, is being attributed to Long Beach’s loss of California United Terminals, which vacated one of the POLB’s seven container terminals and moved to the Port of LA in late 2010. Prior to the move, CUT had accounted for about a tenth of Long Beach’s overall container traffic.

When Long Beach’s annual numbers are adjusted for CUT’s departure, however, the remaining six container terminals actually saw a volume gain of 8.1 percent in 2011, with imports up 10.1 percent and exports climbing 7.8 percent.

Long Beach is currently in the process of finalizing a huge 40-year, $4.6 billion deal with Orient Overseas Container Line for OOCL to occupy the former CUT site and adjacent land, which is currently leased by the Long Beach Container Terminal company and is undergoing renovation as part of the port’s Middle Harbor project.

About $1.2 billion in upgrades to the 300 acre project, located at piers D, E and F, are expected to be complete around the end of the decade.