Week 39 Market Update


The Georgia ports authority is lowering the number of empties carriers can store at its terminals and increasing fees for  storing empties that exceed those allotments. 


A dispute over the assignment of work at a terminal in Seattle is casting a shadow on the outcome of talks to reach a  new labour contract between 22,000 dockworkers at 29 US West Coast ports and about 70 employers, the union  representing the employees said. In a statement Tuesday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said SSA  Marine Inc. — the largest marine terminal at Seattle — together with another labour organization it didn’t identify is  seeking an intervention from the National Labour Relations Board over assigning which workforce can perform tasks at  SSA. 


As U.S. import demand fades and inbound cargo increasingly shifts away from Southern California ports, the highly  publicized containership backup at the neighbouring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is finally showing signs of  returning to some form of normal. The Marine Exchange of Southern California on Friday reported that the backup hit a  nearly 2-year low last Thursday, with just six containerships in the queue, before gaining two on Friday—bringing the number to eight. The six ships are the shortest the backup has been since October 22, 2020, when the pandemic-fuelled import surge was just starting to take shape. It’s been a wild ride these last two years. Before the backup started in  Summer 2020, the “normal” number of containerships awaiting at anchor was just zero or maybe one vessel. But as  consumer settled in to their new normal and pandemic-fuelled spending ramped up, within a couple months the backup  grew to more 60 ships, in January 2021, before tapering back some in the first few months of last year. But with the  arrival of summer shipping season in June 2021, the backup once again exploded in size through the end of the year  before peaking at the January 2022 all-time of record of 109 ships. 


With U.S. port data from August trickling in, we’re getting greater insight into the West to East cargo shift that continues  to play out in the United States. Considering forecasts had been calling for volumes to decline starting in August, flat  performance is pretty good. August’s overall inbound volume, at more than 2.1 million TEUs, was actually the fifth  highest monthly volume ever and 4.8% above the average monthly volume since the summer of 2020 when the  pandemic-fueled imports surge began. 


The numbers are in. The Port of New York and New Jersey has officially surpassed the ports of Los Angeles and Long  Beach to become the top container port in the country… at least in August. The Port Authority of New York and New  Jersey said the seaport moved 843,191 TEUs last month, marking the busiest August in the port’s history. The month  also marked more than two years of consecutive monthly record-high activity, with cargo growth increases reported  now for 25 consecutive months. Looking at the port’s all-time records, August 2022 now ranks as 4th.August 2022 cargo  

volume increased by 24.1 percent compared to pre-pandemic in August 2019 and 8.6 percent compared to July 2022,  when the seaport handled 776,167 TEUs. For comparison, the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest container port in the U.S.  by pretty much all accounts, handled 806,000 TEUs in August, slightly less than its San Pedro Bay neighbour, the Port of  Long Beach, which handled 806,940 TEUs last month. Both ports saw imports decline year-over-year as cargo has shifted  to East and Gulf Coast ports. Similar to New York/New Jersey, the Port of Savannah and Port of Houston have benefited  from the diversion, with all three reporting record months in August.


The Port of Houston has smashed its record for the highest number of containers handled in a single month as some U.S.  imports have shifted from West to Gulf and East Coast ports. Port Houston reports that total container volume in August  came in at 382,842 TEUs, which is 20% more than the same month last year and a whopping 14%, or 47,476 TEUs, over  Houston’s previous all-time record month set in May 2022.August’s loaded container imports reached 180,132 TEUs, for  13% increase compared to last. In total, Port Houston has handled 2,608,405 TEUs year-to-date, marking for a 17%  increase over last year’s record numbers. U.S. Gulf and East Coast ports have been picking up volumes as importers have  diverted cargo away from the U.S. West Coast to avoid the possibility of worsening congestion and as a hedge against a  breakdown of labour negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and port employers—although at this point it  seems unlikely that either scenario is unlikely. The shifting cargo volumes have led to huge gains for ports such as New  York/New Jersey, Savannah and Houston, while West Coast ports like the Long Beach and Los Angeles are starting to  see year-over-year monthly declines, albeit year-to-date cargo throughput is still at or near last year’s all-time records. The growth seen at Port Houston is outpacing that of other major U.S. container ports. According to the National Retail  Federation’s Global Port Tracker Report, Houston’s import volumes were up a nation-leading 21.4% year-to-date  through July. This compares to gains of 10.7% in New York/New Jersey, 14.1% in Charleston, 5% in Savannah, while Los  Angeles/Long Beach have only seen volumes increase 1.1% over the same period. Nationwide, U.S. imports were up  4.1% through July, the NRF’s report showed. Similar to Houston, Savannah also reported its busiest month ever in  August with total throughput up more than 18% yoy. Meanwhile, imports last month through Long Beach fell 5.6% yoy,  while next door Los Angeles saw imports fall by a whopping 17% yoy. Unfortunately, the unprecedented influx of cargo  does not come without its challenges. Import dwell times at Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbour’s Cut terminals have  doubled to now six days on average, compared to two or three in the past. Backups are also up in NY/NJ and Savannah. To help combat the congestion issue, Port Houston has begun offering Saturday gate hours so importers can retrieve  their containers an extra day per week. In addition, Port officials are exploring an Excessive Dwell Fee for containers that  stay at the terminal beyond free grace period. Total tonnage at Port Houston’s facilities is up 24% for the year through  August. Steel imports have been particularly strong this year and are up 83% year to date through August. Auto import  tonnage was up 50% for the month of August but remain down 9% for the year compared to last year. 

Terminal Operations Update

New York Terminal:

At the start of week 38 there were 11 container vessels reported at anchorage awaiting a berth. On September 23, there  were 12 vessels waiting. Waiting times for berths are running upwards of 35 days for GCT Bayonne, 14 days for Maher  and 3 for APMTl. Yard utilization at Maher is at 94%, GCT Bayonne 68% and 62% at APMT. All terminals report high berth  utilization with terminal yard utilization holding steady but still higher than optimal for normal operations. Import dwell  depending on terminal is currently running at around 4.7 days at APM, 8.3 days at Maher, and 9.6 days at GCT Bayonne. 

Norfolk Terminal:

There were 2 ships at anchor on September 23. Outside waiting times remain stable. Rarely more than 1-2 ships waiting  outside, usually ULCVs. New Shuttle trucks have replaced old straddle carriers for working vessels at NITN. Strads will  continue to support yard and gate at NITN. Stack utilization at NIT is at 55%. Terminal has shortened their ERD window  from 7 to 5 days and has increased storage cost as methods to decrease dwell time. VIT has opened NIT and VIG to full  day gates on Saturdays for both import delivery and export receiving; VIG gates opening at 0300 M-F for additional  hours. 

Charleston Terminal:

Berth availability is not an issue. Terminal utilization at WWT is at 63%, at NCT is at 79%, and at HLT it is at 34%. There  will be NO REEFER gates available on these days.The South Carolina Port Authority (SCPA) has updated their Export  Receiving Policy from 26 July. The SCPA will decide the cut-off. The cut-off will be two days before the vessel’s start date.  Two days before the vessel opening for receiving, the receiving date will be locked in and published on the SCPA  website. Vessels will be opened for export containers for seven days. Late gates past the published cut-off will not be  allowed. Only two vessels per service will be open for receiving at one time. The SCPA is building a chassis fleet of  approximately 13,000 chassis and have received 5,450 to date. 

Savannah Terminal:

42 ships at anchor from September 23. Waiting time is 9 days on Class 1 and 18-20 days on Class 2. Berth CB#1 is  undergoing major reconstruction and is a 2-year Project which will complete in June-2023, 6 new Post Panamax Cranes  will be installed on this Berth. The terminal capacity is currently 76% utilization. Gate turn times 38 min single / 61  double transaction, Average Dwell for imports 7.5 days – Average Dwell for exports 10.4 days. With new 9 Day Receiving Window, all vessels with End Receive Date 2 days prior ETB at 1600 are locked. Once locked,  they cannot be adjusted. ETA’s at last port needs to be correct along with coastal when submitted to GPA. New draft still not decided with USCG as they are still placing buoys. 

Houston Terminal:

There were 20 ships at anchor on September 23. Barbour’s Cut terminal at 51% utilization. Export allocation monitored  based on lead line/shared lines export allocation figures for vessels. Once the respective allocation is met, PHA will no  longer accept exports for the respective vessel. The port continues to allow export receiving for one ship system at a  time in a service. This impacts the number of days for receiving due to scheduling delays. PHA continues to move import  containers to the rail yard to make space on the terminal for working vessels. The on-dock rail operation and the ramp space at Barbour’s Cut is being adjusted to accommodate for the additional operation. The rail yard is 35% utilized. The  terminals continue to experience equipment shortages for chassis due to longer street dwells. Port use only chassis  delivered is on hold. Pilots have imposed draft restrictions for Barbours Cut berth 1 to Maximum 41 ft. FW, this is having  a high impact on Vessels having to wait for a berth. 

Oakland Terminal:

Current overall high volume of imports and vessels working (5) causes vessel berthing delays at OICT. There were 9  vessels at anchor or adrift from September 23. As space opens, vessels are assigned a berth. Wait time at OICT is up to  15 days and TRAPAC up to 14 days. Chassis situation is limited. OICT has no DCLI chassis on terminal. TRAPAC operating  at 68% capacity. OICT operating at 85% capacity. 5000 Import containers are in inaccessible areas for delivery. Import  deliveries Avg is 11 days. Import dwell remains high. Additional space has been provided to empties and loaded  containers at Howard Terminal (PTSC). 

Tacoma Terminal:

WUT operates at 32% capacity and HUSKY operates at 70% capacity. Berthing delays in Tacoma are up to 9 days. Chassis  counts in Tacoma are critical, the pool is running 80%+ utilization while street dwell is running 8.4 days for 40’ chassis.  Additional space has been provided to hold empty and loaded containers at West Hylebos in Tacoma and T46 in Seattle,  allowing some additional empty returns for HL, when needed. Rail car shortage is delaying Import cargo heading  Eastbound, out of Tacoma. but is showing some improvement. 

Los Angeles/Long Beach Vessel/Terminal:

There was 1 container ship at anchor within the 25-mile zone of the port complex plus 5 slow speed steaming or  loitering outside the Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA) on September 23. This is a new record low. All terminal gates  are running as published and in line with Pier Pass program. Port of LAX dwell times for local import cargo at 3.7 days,  down from 11 days peak. On-dock rail dwell is at 7,3 days down from 13.4 days peak. Overall volume of on dock rail  departures down to 26,485 units total. 17,530 units nine days and over from September 23. Import units on street is  averaging 10.1 days. Port of LGB dwell times for local imports steady, Wk. 37, -52%, Vs. Oct 28, 2021, benchmark.

Chassis pools

MINNEAPOLIS / St. PAUL – Deficit on 40’ and 45’ chassis. CHICAGO – Deficit on 40’ chassis. 

CINCINNATI – Constrained on 40’ and 45’ chassis CLEVELAND – Deficit on 20’and 40’ chassis. COLUMBUS – Deficit on 40’, constrained on 45’ chassis DETRIOT – Deficit on 40’ chassis 

INDIANAPOLIS – Deficit on 20’, 40’ and 45’ chassis. LOUISVILLE – Constrained on 40’ chassis. 

MEMPHIS – Deficit on 40’ chassis. 

NASHVILLE – Constrained on 40’ chassis 

DALLAS / Ft. WORTH – Deficit on 40’ chassis EL PASO – Deficit on 20’ and 40’ chassis. 

HOUSTON – Constrained on 40’ chassis 

BALTIMORE – Deficit on 40’ chassis. 

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY – Deficit on 40’ chassis. KANSAS CITY – Deficit on 40’ and 45’ chassis OMAHA – Deficit on 40’ and 45’ chassis. 

St. LOUIS – Deficit 40’ and 45’ chassis. 

DENVER – Deficit on 40’ chassis 

SALT LAKE CITY – Deficit on 40’ chassis.


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