Friday, April 7, 2017

Port of Oakland: Vessel Calls Down, Container Volumes Up

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Oakland’s total loaded container volume – imports and exports – was up 9.3 percent last month compared to March 2016, according to figures released April 6, contrasting sharply with a 9.2 percent decline in February shipments to Oakland.

The port’s import cargo volume alone increased 19 percent in March over 2016 totals, according to the port. The increased imports, the port said, reflect a return to normal trade patterns following February Lunar New Year celebrations in Asia. Many factories shut down for the holidays, curtailing shipments to the US.

“This is a nice rebound,” Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “We’re watching now to find out if it signals stronger trade growth for the rest of the year.”

According to port figures, 402 ships called at Oakland during the first three months of 2017, down 5.6 percent from a year ago. But at the same time, the port said those ships carried an average of 8.4 percent more containers in and out of Oakland.

The numbers reflect a shipping industry effort to consolidate greater cargo volume on fewer ships.

According to Oakland, the trend promises three benefits: reduced vessel operating expense for shipping lines; less demand for berthing space at marine terminals; and a reduction in diesel emissions at port due to fewer vessel calls.