Friday, February 17, 2012

TEU Decline Continues at Port of Long Beach

The number of empty containers that moved through the Port of Long Beach last month rose five percent compared with the same month in 2011, but the growth wasn’t enough to halt a downward trend in total container volume at the port.

The number of empties shipped through the port jumped from 104,969 last January to 110,216 this January, according to data posted this week on the port’s website, but the number of loaded imports and loaded exports both dropped by substantial margins during the same time period.

The number of loaded inbound containers fell about 5.5 percent, from 242,445 last year to 229,125 last month. Also, the amount of loaded outbound containers was down 8.2 percent, to 117,083 last month from 127,546 in January 2011.

The overall number of 20-foot equivalent units moved dropped 3.9 percent during the time period, to 456,424 from 474,960.

For its fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the POLB’s total volume is down 11.8 percent compared with the year prior.

The port attributes much of the decline to its loss of California United Terminals, which vacated one of the POLB’s seven container terminals in late 2010. CUT, which had accounted for about a tenth of the port’s overall container traffic, now leases about 100 acres of the 512-acre APM Terminals facility at the Port of Los Angeles.

CUT’s former terminal is being redeveloped as part of the port’s Middle Harbor project, a nine-year, $1.2 billion undertaking in which two aging terminals will be combined and modernized.

The port, which began work on the project in the spring of 2011, has signed Orient Overseas Container Line to a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease on the facility.