Home News Ag Economics Port of Oakland Update on Container Availability and Shipping Line Disruption

Port of Oakland Update on Container Availability and Shipping Line Disruption

The Almond Alliance hosted a zoom call with the Port of Oakland this morning to discuss issues with shipping lines and container availability at the Port of Oakland.  Through October 2020, Oakland sent out 18% fewer empty containers compared to the same time period in 2019.  Empty container exports dropped 30% between September 2020 and October 2020 (41,440 TEU vs 29,000 TEU respectively).  As you know most container shipping lines are foreign owned and are urging importers to return empty containers as quickly as possible, since it is having impacts throughout the supply chain. Ships are coming in late and berthing late and are cancelling many bookings. A significant number of chassis are being used to store full import containers, resulting in increased dwell times. The return of empty containers to free up chassis and improve operational velocity in terminals and storage yards is needed to help improve the situation.

While efforts of many trade  associations (including Agriculture Transportation Coalition) are reaching out to the Administration and congressional representatives to request assistance, the goal of the Almond Alliance is to contact all of the carriers and get their message on what is happening with their containers and let them know the position and concerns of the almond industry.

We requested that the Port of Oakland provide and recommendations to our membership to help them get through this situation. Below are some recommendations for consideration.  The Almond Alliance continues to work on this issue and will keep you updated.

Recommendations to address this issue temporarily until the larger situation is handled:

  • Talk to your carriers and ask them if their book of business has changed.
  • Talk to your carriers and request that they take more export cargo. 
  • Based on your carriers’ book of business, you may need to spread the risk and consider working with other carriers. If your carrier does not have imports coming in, that is something you should consider in your decision in the next 3 months. 
  • Look at the terms of the conditions of your contract with your carrier. Certain contracts you can change your terms of conditions and temporarily give them up so carriers have incentive to work you.  We need to find ways to put pressure on carriers. 
  • Be flexible with equipment – better off shipping something than nothing and lose the sale. 

Important note:

Hapag Lloyd informed the Port of Oakland that in addition to the current delays of vessels employed in the AL5 service and the various recovery measures such as port omissions, speed-up, and rotation changes we unfortunately did not succeed to bring the service back on schedule since new delays have jeopardized those efforts.

Ongoing adverse weather on the Atlantic is preventing us to do the necessary speed-up and even forces us to reduce the speed for safety reasons. In addition, port congestions caused by weather related port closures and labor shortages have caused additional delays.

In order to recover the AL5 schedule and bring vessels back into the proforma long term schedule position, H/L has proactively decided to let all vessels slide by one week as per week 48 MV “NYK Rumina” 053W. All vessels sailing until then will remain in their delayed position with some slight schedule adjustments.

For any questions, please email Elaine Trevino at etrevino@almondalliance.org.

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