Friday, May 17, 2013

Port Metro Vancouver Monthly Traffic Rises

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest seaport, saw a total of 233,334 TEUs in April 2013, a slight jump from the 229,055 TEUs that port terminals saw during the same month in 2012, according to newly released data.

Of the containers traveling through the port last month, the vast majority, 211,841, were full, with about 118,000 of those being inbound containers and roughly 93,400 being outbound. Empties accounted for about 21,500 TEUs of the total volume handled during the month, with 9,000 of those being inbound and more than 12,400 being outbound. Of April 2012’s container volume of 229,055, about 211,700 were full containers and about 17,400 empties.

The month has been the busiest so far for Metro Vancouver terminals during 2013, ahead of the second busiest month, January, by about 7,000 TEUs. During the first four months of 2013, the port moved 876,293 units, up from roughly 856,600 TEUs during the same time period in 2012.

Of those 876,293 units, the vast majority, 442,585, were loaded inbound TEUs, followed by about 349,600 loaded outbound containers.

Metro Vancouver’s volume levels make it the third busiest port on the North American West Coast, behind Los Angeles and Long Beach, which saw totals of 2.4 million and two million TEUs respectively, during the same first four months of the 2013.

Long Beach Monthly Cargo Volumes Continue Rising Trend

The year 2013 is turning out to be a good one so far at the Port of Long Beach when it comes to cargo volumes: overall cargo at the port rose by 12.5 percent in April 2013, continuing this year’s trend of steadily increasing activity at the docks.

A total of 519,464 20-foot equivalent container units were moved during the month, according to newly released data from the port. Full imports increased 13.5 percent to 264,337 TEUs, while filled exports jumped by 14.5 percent to 137,864 TEUs compared to April 2012.

Additionally, the number of empty containers imported and exported was up 8.1 percent to 117,263 TEUs, according to the data.

For the first four months of calendar year 2013, Long Beach has already moved more than two million TEUs, and cargo container volume is up 17.2 percent – including 18.5 percent more imports, 11.8 percent more exports and 21.5 percent more empties. Long Beach attributes the increases in part to the larger ships calling at the port more frequently and the addition of service lines starting in later 2012.

Things are also looking good at the port for the fiscal year. According to POLB data, the port has seen a TEU increase of 15.3 percent this fiscal year compared to the same time period during the previous fiscal year. FY 2013 began last October at the port.

POLA Container Volumes Drop for Second Straight Month

The Port of Los Angeles’ April 2013 overall volumes decreased 9.45 percent compared to April 2012, according to newly-released data, with the decrease being attributed in large part to a vessel service that shifted out of LA.

The drop represents the second straight month that Los Angeles saw drops in every major statistical category it monitors, including loaded inbound containers, loaded outbound and number of empties moved.

Imports dropped 10.36 percent in April, falling from 364,555 TEUs in April 2012 to 326,780 TEUs this April. Additionally, exports decreased 14.3 percent last month, falling from 186,838 TEUs in April 2012 to 160,129 TEUs in April 2013.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports for April were down 11.69 percent, dropping from 551,393 TEUs last April to 486,910 TEUs in April 2013. Factoring in empties, which decreased 1.52 percent year over year, overall April 2013 volume of 640,330 TEUs was down 9.45 percent compared to April 2012’s 707,182 TEUs.

The negatives don’t just stop there, however. Calendar year and fiscal year volumes are both down compared with the same periods during the previous years.

French shipping line CMA CGM Group moved a weekly ship call from Los Angeles to the neighboring Port of Long Beach last year. Mediterranean Shipping Co. also jumped from the Port of Los Angeles to the Port of Long Beach late in 2012.

For the first four months of the current calendar year, LA moved 2.4 million TEUs, which is far more than any other US port, but down about six percent from 2012 volumes. For the fiscal year, which began in July 2013, volumes are down 3.85 percent, falling from 6.75 million TEUs to 6.49 million.
Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:

SoCal Ports’ Efficiency Deliberated at Town Hall Meeting

The efficiency of the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex and how that efficiency – or lack thereof -- effects its competitiveness were the subject of a town hall-style meeting on the campus of California State University Long Beach on May 15.

The meeting was the latest in a series of annual events hosted by the university’s Center for International Trade & Transportation. The theme: “Efficiency & Competiveness: Securing Cargo & Jobs,” was chosen as the topic since it is one of the more pressing issues of the day for the San Pedro Bay ports.

“What’s going to happen to the ports when we have 18,000 TEU ships? The answer is that it depends. It depends on how well we can compete,” Genevieve Giuliano, a professor and senior associate dean with the University of Southern California said. “The task is to discuss how each of us as industry stakeholders can improve our practices to contribute to a more efficient supply chain.”

One of the major issues of the evening was the LA/Long Beach ports’ market share. In years past, the San Pedro Bay ports combined were the third-busiest port in the world regarding container volumes, but their ranking has now fallen to fifth, behind surging ports in China and South Korea that individually see significantly higher volumes than the combined 14 million TEUs at LA and Long Beach.

Regarding the issue of how the ports can possibly regain some of their lost global market share, members of the meeting’s five-member panel said LA and Long Beach are poised for a comeback.
“Look, I know there’s a lot of concern and it’s a concern for us too. We’ll have to see.” Mike Podue, president of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 63, which represents marine clerks, said. “Personally, I think the infrastructure of the San Pedro Bay ports outshines any other port in the nation.”

Growth initiatives like BNSF’s proposed $500 million, 185-acre Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) intermodal rail yard and Long Beach’s in-progress $1.2 billion Middle Harbor terminal redevelopment are expected to help the ports remain competitive.

“People who are shipping cargo want a low cost and they want consistent, reliable service at low cost. And at the end of the day, if we can do that, we’ll get the cargo back,” Alan McCorkle, senior vice president of APM Terminals Pacific said. “We’ve got to find a way to increase efficiency in an effort to lower costs. If we do that consistently for a long period of time, then we’ll get the cargo back.”

Another panelist, Jeff Coppersmith of Coppersmith Global Logistics, said cost and efficiency were the two biggest issues for his customers and that some of the ports’ practices and policies – such as the PierPass program, an anti-pollution initiative that charges a per-container fee during peak weekday hours, are causes of concern. He also said demurrage fees and labor actions all play a part in his customers’ decisions whether or not to go through LA/Long Beach.

“To make it more efficient to bring (cargo) into Los Angeles, you have to bring it at night with a clean truck when you have your own chassis,” Coppersmith said. “I agree with why we do it – I breathe the air in Long Beach as well, so I don’t have a problem with that.

“But if it’s not an efficient port and it’s costing me too much, I have to look somewhere else,” he said. “I can’t blame the customers for doing that.”