Congestion remains an ongoing problem as container volume at Oakland surges 22% in May.
The Port of Oakland saw a 22% year-on-year increase in its May container volume, handling 226,406 TEU compared to 185,595 TEU in May 2020. Loaded import containers were up 26% to 92,558 TEU and loaded export boxes increased 7.2% to 74,726 TEU. Empty container handlings surged 57.7% to 59,122 TEU.
The port noted that it handled the equivalent of 1.08M TEU from January through May, an all-time high. If growth continues Oakland is on target to surpass 2.6M TEU for the first time ever in 2021.
While import cargo from Asia continues to surge, loaded export container volume through the first five months of 2021 is down 1%. At the same time the number of empty containers exported has increased 41.4% to almost 160,000 TEU.
The last five months have not been easy for Oakland. During May the line of vessels waiting for a berth at the port exceeded 30 ships at times, and at the time of writing 25 vessels were waiting for a berth. The arrival and then commissioning of three new cranes at SSA’s Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) has impacted its capacity, though the cranes are now in service. The latest challenge is the slowdown at Yantian due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’re in unchartered waters; record cargo volume coming through U.S. West Coast ports and a pandemic issue at a port in China are creating vessel congestion in both regions," said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes.
Looking ahead the PMA and the ILWU have agreed to hire and train more longshoremen in Oakland, which the port said should help ease congestion by the fall. "These are trying times for our tenants and customers, basically everyone involved in the supply chain,” added Bryan Brandes. “We appreciate our colleagues in the maritime and logistics industries for their tireless efforts to keep goods moving during the pandemic."