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Oakland’s January blues

Port attributes a drop in January container numbers to three factors.

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The Port of Oakland saw its container volume in January drop 5.8% year-on-year to 146,550 TEU. The result is a surprise as volume at Long Beach surged 21.9% over the same month, while Los Angeles was up 3.6%. Oakland saw, however, saw its import volume drop 11.9% and export numbers fall 11.3%. An increase in empty container numbers was not enough to offset the drop in loaded imports and exports.


The port attributed the decline to “factors that included: late-arriving ships from Southern California where up to 60 vessels are at anchor awaiting berth space; temporary loss of berth capacity at Oakland’s largest marine terminal where new cranes are being assembled; and dwindling vessel space for Oakland exports as ships carry more empty cargo containers back to Asia”.


That being the case, the congestion in San Pedro harbour is impacting Oakland more than Los Angeles and Long Beach. “There’s a lot of cargo trapped on ships just waiting to get to here after departing Southern California,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Our concern is getting shipments to our customers as quickly as we can.”


The port said the congestion in Southern California is causing delays of up to a week for Oakland vessel arrivals. “As a result, ships reach the Port off-schedule and sometimes miss berthing appointments”. The port said it expects its container volume to increase in the coming months as demand is still strong, and the congestion situation is expected to improve.


Oakland is also working hard to seize the opportunity offered by congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach to secure more first port of call services. CMA CGM is now calling Oakland first on its new Golden Gate Bridge Service from China, and the port said “other ocean carriers are contemplating Oakland first-calls by mid-year”.

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