Friday, February 5, 2016

Oakland Terminal Operator Files Chapter 11

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland terminal operator Outer Harbor LLC, which until early January was known as Ports America Outer Harbor, said Feb. 1 that it is filing for bankruptcy. The announcement comes two weeks after Outer Harbor revealed that it would be closing its Port of Oakland terminal in March.

In a Chapter 11 petition filed in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, Outer Harbor listed both assets and liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million.

“We’re deeply disappointed in the action today by Ports America,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle said in a prepared statement. “They made a decision to close their business in Oakland. Since then, we’ve been negotiating with them in good faith for a smooth, orderly transition that protects the interests of shipping lines, cargo owners and others who depend on the terminal. It’s a shame they’ve taken this step.”

Outer Harbor, which had run of five marine terminals at the port, was about six years into a 50-year lease with Oakland.

Ports America said Jan. 19 that it intends to terminate its 50-year lease at Oakland’s Outer Harbor terminal for “business reasons,” according to the port. Although Ports America has said it would continue with business as usual for 30 days, vessel and cargo-handling operations are expected to cease after that, then the terminal itself would close down within 60 days.

Port officials have promised to keep cargo moving efficiently after Ports America leaves, and that vessels would be rerouted to adjacent terminals after the shutdown occurs.

“We’ll find a home for all of the cargo that was going to Ports America Outer Harbor,” Lytle said.