Thursday, September 3, 2015

FMC Delays Oakland Container Fee Program

By Mark Edward Nero

The Federal Maritime Commission on Sept. 2 put on hold an agreement that would authorize a container fee program at the Port of Oakland when it issued a request for additional information from the five container terminals regarding the agreement.

Under the fee program, which has been dubbed OakPass and is modeled after the PierPass program at the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports complex, Oakland terminal operators would charge container fees during peak hours.

Under the proposed program, terminals would collect an Extended Gate Fee of $17 for a 20-foot unit and $34 for all other sizes of container. The EGF would be assessed on loaded import and export containers during peak hours, defined as 7 am through 6 pm Monday through Friday.

No fee will be assessed during off peak hours, defined at 7 am through 6 pm Saturdays. Empty containers and transshipment cargo would be exempt from the fee.

OakPass, which was announced Aug. 21, was originally expected to go into effect sometime during the fourth quarter of 2015, but could be delayed by one or more quarters, depending on actions taken by the Maritime Commission.

The Commission has said it has concerns about the program being proposed based on an initial review and comments received from various stakeholders that would be impacted by the program.

Also according to the Commission, stakeholders have expressed concerns that insufficient details about how the system would work have been made available to them, and the Commission has stated that it believes additional transparency by the parties would greatly aid in its analysis of the issue.

A notice that the Commission has issued the request for additional information is slated to be published in the Federal Register next week, and at the same time, a 15-day public comment period for interested parties to comment on the proposed agreement is to be announced, according to the FMC.

After the port and terminal operators have responded to the FMCs information request, a new 45-day review period is slated to begin.