In December of 2015 the United Stated lifted its ban on exporting domestic oil, and terminals up and down the Gulf Coast began vying for that business. Prior to the ban being lifted, only 10 countries were importing U.S. crude. Since then, that number has grown to 33. And it’s a trend likely to continue.
The “shale revolution,” as it’s been called, has led not only to the construction of new pipelines and LNG terminals, but also to a significant increase in this country’s energy exports. Less than a decade ago, U.S. gas production from conventional fields was in a downward spiral. And experts predicted that the country would become, of necessity, one of the largest importers of natural gas.
With the approval of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), several ports that previously competed for market share are now working cooperatively—exploring opportunities, sharing data, promoting cargo-handling efficiencies, expanding infrastructure. This trend among ports to form alliances with other ports in the same geographic region has come in response to the recent alliances formed by shipping companies.
Earlier this month, Pemex, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, started importing LNG from Cheniere Energy's export terminal in Sabine Pass to Mexico's Altamira import terminal. These deliveries were the product of scheduled maintenance on the NET Mexico pipe in Texas, which starting during the holy week of April 9 - 15.
According to a recent report from the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association (PMSA), ports up and down the West Coast of the U.S. collectively posted gains in market share in 2016 in terms of the TEUs—twenty-foot equivalent units—they processed. In coming to that conclusion, the PMSA report took into account a number of factors, including container weight, and whether the TEUs were outbound or inbound.
Driven by California's Sustainable Freight Action Plan, the ports of LA and Long Beach are updating their Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). The state's plan, unveiled in July 2016, focuses on improvements to freight infrastructure efficiency, a transition to zero-emission tech, and a goal to make California's freight system more competitive. According to the Journal of Commerce, these ports currently have the strictest air-quality standards in the US and this new update of their CAAP will create environmental policies that some cargo owners and port clients fear will make the port complex less competitive.
Miami-Dade County announced that Florida State grants totaling $33 million over the next five years are committed to PortMiami (the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami). This is on top of the previously invested $1.3 billion to ready the port for the bigger ships now transiting the newly expanded Panama Canal from the Pacific. The first container ship to pass through the canal and reach Miami, the MOL Majesty, was welcomed on July 9, 2016. Although the Majesty is small, as neo-Panamax ships go, at only 991 feet, it is only the first of many bigger vessels that will enter the port.