Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Puget Sound Container Volumes Up Significantly

By Mark Edward Nero

Cargo continued to return to the Puget Sound gateway in February, with container volumes through the ports of Seattle and Tacoma – collectively known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance – jumping nearly 21 percent compared to February 2015, according to newly released data.

The two ports saw a combined 267,951 TEUs in February, a 20.7 percent increase over the 222,009 TEUs during the same month last year.

Robust import and export volumes propelled the growth according to the data, which was released March 17. Full containerized imports climbed 31 percent year to date to 215,690 TEUs, while full exports improved 31 percent to 141,890 TEUs.

There was also an overall 27 percent year-to-date gain in international volumes to 428,234 TEUs, which the Seaport Alliance said reflects the impact of last year’s contract negotiations. Last year’s volumes were down during the first two months of 2015 due to the then-ongoing talks between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

The two parties reached an agreement on a new contract in February 2015.

Domestic container volumes fell eight percent to 97,066 TEUs last month, due in part to Alaska’s economy continuing to struggle because of lower oil prices.

Auto imports and breakbulk cargo also saw declines last month due to seasonal volume fluctuations and fewer vessel calls. Auto imports fell 11 percent year to date to 25,190 units, while breakbulk dropped 40 percent to 25,973 metric tons. However, both are projected to grow in 2016, according to the Seaport Alliance.

February 2016 container volumes for the ports can be seen at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/file/520 and cargo statistics for the month are available at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/file/519.