Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Oakland Port: Weekend Gates Alleviating Congestion

By Mark Edward Nero

New Saturday and Sunday gate hours are putting a dent in an extraordinary cargo buildup at the Port of Oakland, according to data. More than 1,000 US import containers have moved out of its marine terminals every weekend for the past month, the port revealed Jan. 5.

The largest marine terminal operators at the port have opened weekend gates since Thanksgiving. It is cargo that would otherwise move weekdays when terminals and harbor truckers strain to manage soaring volume. It was an unusual move precipitated by an unprecedented cargo surge in Oakland.  Import volume has increased in each of the past three months compared to previous year totals.

“The weekend moves are only a fraction of what we send out the gates Monday-through-Friday so they’re not the complete answer to our big buildup,” port Maritime Director John Driscoll said.  “But every little bit helps while we're working to keep cargo flowing.”

Among the reasons the port cites for the increase in volumes: increased US trade with Asia; Southern California port congestion; and labor-management negotiations disrupting West Coast port operations.

Three-to-nine vessels anchor in San Francisco Bay every day awaiting berths, according to the Port of Oakland.

Terminal operators are expected to continue moving containers on Saturdays and Sundays while demand persists, which is expected to be another month as U.S. shippers import cargo before Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia.