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May 23, 2022 12:21 PM, EDT

Ports Maintain High Volumes in April

Containership at Port of SavannahThe Port of Savannah reported record 495,782 containers processed in April compared with 466,633 a year earlier. (Georgia Ports Authority via Twitter)

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Imports continue to dominate the cargo at the nation’s ports.

The nation’s busiest facility, the Port of Los Angeles, reported its second-busiest April in its 115-year-plus history, moving 887,357 20-foot-equivalent containers, even as it saw a 6.3% decline from April 2021’s record of 946,966.

Still, for the first four months of the year, the Port of L.A. is running 30,000 containers, or 0.85%, ahead of its all-time record pace as workers have processed 3,569,391 TEUs.

“Cargo continues to flow into Los Angeles despite some of the COVID lockdowns in China,” port Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “The situation in China may lead to a lull in volume with a fairly quick bounceback once the lockdowns end.”

The adjacent Port of Long Beach broke its previous year’s record for April, moving 10% more containers than 2021. Workers handled 820,718 TEUs, compared with 746,188 the previous year. The complex is running 5.1% ahead of 2021’s record, moving 3,281,377 boxes compared with 3,122,315 a year ago.

The port also announced it has completed work on a nearly $35 million project to expand rail capacity at two piers by 25%, adding a second rail line running approximately 8,000 feet that enables four terminals in the port’s south basin area to simultaneously handle arriving and departing trains.

As a consequence of the COVID-related shutdowns in Shanghai, the Port of Oakland reported a 15% decline in cargo containers in April. The facility processed 188,495 containers compared with 221,838 the previous year.

“U.S. exports have been hampered by vessel schedules thrown into disarray in China,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said. “Most of Oakland’s business depends on the Asia-U.S. trade route.”

Bryan Brandes

Brandes

But Brandes said shipping volumes in May showed signs of an increase, and the port is talking with shipping lines about increasing the number of vessel calls to Oakland.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which runs facilities in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, reported a 13.8% decline in volume in April as workers handled 266,635 containers versus 303,642 in 2021. Year-to-date the twin ports are running 2.75% behind last year’s record pace; workers have moved 1,167,869 containers compared with 1,200,367 a year ago.

Officials also attributed the fall-off to China’s shutdowns.

Port Houston set an all-time monthly record in April, processing 334,493 containers, or 21.2% more compared with 275,840 a year ago. Year-to-date, the facility is running 20.5% ahead of 2021’s record year, and workers have moved 1,237,816 containers compared with 1,027,039 a year ago. To keep up with the volume increase, the port announced that beginning June 4, its Bayport and Barbours Cut Container Terminal gate hours will be extended to include Saturdays.

On the East Coast, the Port of Savannah reported another record, processing 495,782 containers, compared with 2021’s 466,633 in April 2021. The facility is running 3.1% ahead of 2021’s record-shattering 1,815,109 for the first four months of the year. To date, the port has moved 1,871,598 containers.

Last week, Hyundai Motors and the state of Georgia announced plans to build a $5.5 billion electric vehicle facility along Interstate 16, about an hour’s drive from the port. Gov. Brian Kemp said the plant will create more than 8,000 new jobs, and the factory should produce 300,000 vehicles once it is fully operational in 2025. He predicted the Hyundai plant will become one of the biggest customers for Savannah’s port.

The Port of Virginia in April reported its second-highest container volume ever, moving nearly 13% more TEUs year-over-year — 323,244 compared with 286,405. Through April 30, the port is running more than 10% above 2021’s all-time record volume, processing 1,119,163 TEUs, compared with 1,085,414 a year ago.

The South Carolina Port Authority, which operates Port of Charleston, also reported the strongest April in its history. The facility missed setting an all-time record — set just one month earlier — by less than 150 containers.

The port processed 264,099 TEUs compared with 225,136 in 2021 for a 17.3% increase. Year to date, the port is running nearly 6% ahead of 2021’s record pace.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey typically is one month behind the other ports reporting container volumes. That facility in March moved 9.2% more TEUs, 862,117 compared with 789,776 a year earlier. Year to date, the nation’s third-largest port complex is running 11.7% ahead of 2021’s record pace, moving 2,386,415 TEUs through the end of March, compared with 2,136,180.

The Port of Baltimore had not reported container volumes at press time.

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