The Port of Oakland is working with the private sector to increase container volume for the benefit of the entire community, Executive Director Omar Benjamin said Thursday. "More containers mean more jobs," he said.
In his state of the port address to the regional trade community, Benjamin said Oakland has become a "gateway of innovation" through public-private partnerships, environmental initiatives, export promotion and trade and logistics efforts.
Oakland's container volume in 2010 increased 14 percent to 2.3 million TEUs, bringing the port close to its pre-recession level. The export volume was the second highest in the port's history.
Future growth and sustainability will come through innovation, Benjamin said. He cited the terminal lease with Ports America in which the terminal operator brings a stable source of revenue to the port over the 50-year term of the agreement.
Other infrastructure improvements include a five-year extension of the Evergreen Marine lease to 2018 with Evergreen spending $30 million on capital improvements and a lease extension with TraPac that includes $27 million in terminal improvements.
One of the more innovative projects is the transformation of the former Oakland Army Base into a trade and logistics center that is expected to bring distribution and logistics operations to the waterfront.
The port's export program, which complement's President Obama's national export initiative, seeks to double Oakland's exports by 2015. Oakland signed a memorandum of understanding with China Merchants Holdings to promote two-way trade with China in agricultural products.
Oakland is the gateway to California's fertile Central Valley and the port is a leading exporter of wine and other agricultural products. While some ports depend heavily upon imports, Oakland consistently maintains a 50-50 balance of exports and imports.
Oakland will continue to increase its cargo volume while reducing pollution from port operations, Benjamin said. The truck component of the Maritime Air Quality Improvement Program reduced truck pollution 86 percent in 2010 alone by banning old vehicles and retrofitting newer models with emission control devices, he said.
The port also is equipping marine terminals with shore-side electrical power so vessel operators can turn off diesel auxiliary engines and operate ships from clean electricity at berth.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.