It’s been said that you can never have too much of a good thing. But members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), faced with the oversupply of crude, might take issue with that statement.
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.
The Port of Vancouver has taken an innovative approach to making life easier for the area’s orcas, dolphins, and porpoises, and less costly for the ships that dock there. As of January 1, 2017, the port offers significant discounts to shippers who outfit their vessels with specific sound-reduction technologies that mitigate the noise that interferes with the ability of these marine mammals to hunt, navigate, and communicate with each other.
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.
The watchdogs at China’s Ministry of Environment probably weren’t surprised at the shipping delays recently caused by the heavy smog in the major ports in northern China. But the shippers were.
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.
Port terminals around the world are feeling an economic squeeze from a number of directions. Port Technology indicates that these pressures could lead to shutdowns, lower profits for terminal operators, and decreased port investment in the future unless operators figure out a way to change strategies to stay viable.
The new Panama Canal may not turn out to be an economic windfall for east and west coast US ports – at least in the short term. Just as the new Panama Canal channel and locks ramp up after the June 2016 opening, shippers like Nippon Yusen, Mitsui OSK Lines and Kawasaki Kisen are expecting major operating losses ($780 million) for the fiscal year ending in March 2017, as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek. As well, at a recent conference, the CFO of Haapag-Lloyd mentioned that the shipping industry is looking at the highest ship-scrapping levels ever seen. In Singapore, one of the world's largest ports, shipping container traffic fell 8.7% in 2015 and 1.7 % in 2016, so far.