By Mark Edward Nero
July 2016 was the busiest month in 10 years at the Port of Oakland as far as container volumes go.
On Aug. 8, the port said it handled the equivalent of 223,619 TEUs last month, the most since it lifted 227,996 20-foot containers in August 2006.
Cargo volume was up across the board, according to the port, including both imports and exports.
The port says it believes the upswing may signal hope for the upcoming peak shipping season.
“The numbers are encouraging and with holiday shipments set to commence, this could be the start of something good,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said.
Among the positive signs last month in Oakland were that total container volume jumped 8.8 percent from July of 2015; and that export volume, up 3.6 percent, increased for the sixth time in seven months, strengthening Oakland’s status as a to-Asia gateway.
The rise in empty container volume is attributed by the port to shipping lines repositioning boxes to prepare for an anticipated uptick in peak-season cargo.
The port said it received 153 visits from container ships in July, up from 136 vessel calls during the same month a year ago.
The port also speculated that its increased numbers could quiet speculation that the newly widened Panama Canal threatens West Coast port volume. Larger canal locks opened July 1, coinciding with Oakland’s cargo surge.
The port’s total cargo volume is up 6.4 percent through the first seven months of 2016. Exports are up 9.1 percent in that span and imports have risen 8.6 percent.