Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Port of Oakland Seeing More Cargo, But Fewer Ships

By Mark Edward Nero

A shipping industry trend toward bigger, more efficient container vessels is paying off at the Port of Oakland.

The port’s 2017 container volume through April was up 2.8 percent over last year, while at the same time, the number of vessels arriving was down 5.6 percent, according to data released by the port on May 12. Numbers also show 539 ships visiting Oakland in the first four months of 2017, compared to 571 calls during the same period in 2016.

The upshot is that fewer but larger ships are carrying more cargo to Oakland, easing dock crowding while reducing vessel emissions.

“Shipping lines have moved to larger vessels to consolidate cargo and cut costs,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll explained. “We’re the beneficiaries because we can handle volume growth efficiently and sustainably.”

The reduction not only meant fewer diesel emissions from ships heading in or out of port, but also less demand for berthing space, which is a hot commodity in Oakland.

The average-size vessel visiting Oakland now has the capacity to carry more than 8,000 20-foot containers, up from 5,000 TEUs three years ago. Ships with capacity for 14,000 containers – the largest in North America – call Oakland weekly, according to the port.

Containerized import volume in Oakland increased 3.5 percent from January through April, while export volume was up three percent, according to port data.