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March 24, 2022 1:28 PM, EDT

Pacific, Atlantic Coast Ports Post Strong Volumes in February

Port of Los Angeles Kicks Off 2022 With Back-to-Back Monthly Records
Truck at Port of Los Angeles' TraPac LLC terminalA truck leaves the TraPac LLC terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. The facility moved 7.3% more containers in February than in the year-ago period. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

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Another month, another all-time monthly record at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest port facility.

It moved 857,764 20-foot-equivalent-units (TEUs) in February, a 7.3% increase compared with last year’s 799,315. Also, it marked the port’s busiest February in its 115-year history and represents back-to-back record months to begin 2022.



“The latest data at the Port of Los Angeles reveals an exceptionally strong cargo volume in the month of February,” Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a briefing. “Growth continues to be driven by imports and empty container repositioning.”

Growth continues to be driven by imports and empty container repositioning.

Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles executive director

Gene Seroka

However, he said exports declined more than 5.5% year-over-year, and they have been down 36 of the past 40 months.

During the briefing, Dee Dee Myers, director of the state’s Office of Budget and Economic Development, outlined Gov. Gavin Newsom’s planned record investment of $2.3 billion for California ports.

“We’re using state funds to invest in infrastructure to increase capacity and resiliency in the future,” Myers said.

The nearby Port of Long Beach also had a strong month, moving 3.2% more containers than a year ago, 796,560 compared with 771,735 in February 2021.

Beginning April 1, the port is instituting a $10 Clean Truck Fund fee on each TEU on loaded import and export cargo containers hauled by drayage trucks as they enter or leave container terminals. The fund was created to promote the change to cleaner trucks. To be exempt, truck drivers must be driving zero-emission trucks and low-nitrogen oxide-emitting (low-NOx) trucks. It is estimated the fee could raise $90 million in the first year alone to accelerate the development of zero-emission technology.

The Port of Oakland moved 194,388 TEUs in February, a 2% increase compared with 190,489 in 2021. Imported cargo, which is 58% of the port’s business, increased 6.3% while exports slumped 10.3%. That figure for imports is the highest it has been in decades, port officials said.

However, the port recently announced plans to step up is agricultural export operations and designate a specific area of the facility for agricultural-related products.

Bryan Brandes

Brandes

“We’re gratified by the strength of the import business moving through Oakland,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said. “And we’re certain that export totals are going to pick up as we increase capacity to transport U.S. products overseas.”

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which operates the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., reported it moved 11.1% more containers this February than in the previous year. Longshore workers processed 298,046 TEUs compared with 268,216 in 2021.

On the East Coast, the Port of Virginia set a record for February by processing 19% more containers — 296,201 compared with 248,526 a year ago. Two months into 2022, the port already is running 40,000 TEUs ahead of 2021’s record pace of 3,522,834.

Containers stacked at Port of Virginia terminal in Portsmouth

Shipping containers sit stacked before being loaded at the Port of Virginia APM Terminal in Portsmouth. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

A new report from the College of William & Mary showed the port continues to be an expanding force in the commonwealth’s economy, responsible for more than 430,000 jobs and $27 billion in compensation attributed to the port’s activity.

Stephen Edwards

Edwards

“The Port of Virginia is growing and delivering significant, positive results for the Virginia economy,” Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen Edwards said. “The goal is to continue to drive economic growth for decades to come. The cargo goes to well-run, modern, efficient ports, and as this port grows, so do its benefits to all Virginians.”

The South Carolina Ports Authority, which operates the Port of Charleston, reported a 26.4% year-over-year increase on container volume in February. The port handled a record 230,420 TEUs versus 182,269 a year ago.

“February marked the 12th consecutive month of monthly year-over-year container records at SC Ports,” CEO Jim Newsome said. “With record throughput volumes, we continue to experience a high number of import containers awaiting delivery on our terminals.

“We remain focused on creative solutions and executing our vital infrastructure projects, including the completion of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project this fall, initiating construction on the rail-served Navy Base Intermodal Facility and inner-harbor barge project, and advancing towards a quick completion of the Inland Port Greer expansion project.”

For the ongoing fiscal 2022, the port is running up nearly 16% from fiscal 2021.

Port Houston, Georgia Ports Authority (which operates the Port of Savannah), the Port of Baltimore and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not have February figures at press time.

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