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November container volumes rise at Port of Oakland, drop at Los Angeles

Container throughput at the Port of Los Angeles fell in November as the port handled more smaller-than-average, unscheduled ships chartered to meet strong demand during the pre-holidays peak season, but volumes rose at Oakland as more ships sought to avoid congestion in Southern California.

The Port of Los Angeles handled an estimated 811,706 twenty-foot equivalent units in November, Executive Director Gene Seroka said Dec. 15, noting that a final count has yet to be concluded. That volume is the lowest monthly total since February and an 8.8% drop from November 2020.
“Of the 86 container vessels that arrived last month, half were less than 5,300 TEUs in capacity. For comparison, in October about one-third of the ships were that size,” Seroka said in a press briefing. “We also saw 24 ad hoc or unscheduled vessels in November, a new high for us here in Los Angeles.”

The Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex had a record 101 ships waiting in a queue Dec. 14 to berth at the twin ports, according to the Marine Exchange of South California. Los Angeles and Long Beach are the primary gateways for Asian imports and the busiest container ports in the US.

That level of congestion in Southern California prompted more shipping lines and charterers to re-establish service to the Port of Oakland after bypassing the port earlier in the year because of other delays in rotating through calls on the West Coast of North America.

Oakland handled 189,112 TEUs in November, up 9.1% from October and the largest monthly volume since August, but a drop of 4.3% from November 2020. The month-on-month growth was attributed to an increase in loaded import volumes.

“Increased cargo activity is welcome news in Oakland following two straight months of declining imports,” the port said Dec. 15. “Carriers view Oakland as an uncongested alternative to gridlocked Southern California gateways.”

Seroka said the Port of Los Angeles is on track to handle a record 10.7 million-10.8 million TEUs in 2021. Oakland is also expecting a record total volume for the year as it is currently tracking 1% growth over 2020, the port said.

Platts Container Rate 13 — North Asia to West Coast North America — bounced back up to a record high at $9,000/FEU Dec. 15, as carriers hiked rates in response to strong demand for restocking inventories earlier next year ahead of Asia’s Lunar New Year celebrations, starting Feb. 1.
Source: Platts

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