North American west coast container ports experienced a slight increase in year-over-year traffic in the third quarter of 2013. Overall throughput to major west coast ports in the U.S., Mexico and Canada rose 1.7 percent year-over-year to 6,283,238 TEUs.
Among North American west coast ports, U.S. ports saw their market share reach its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2011. The U.S. continued to hold the largest market share of the three countries, with 81.5 percent of overall traffic during the third quarter of 2013, up 0.8 percentage point from the same quarter a year ago. Of the major U.S. West Coast ports, ports in Southern California — Los Angeles and Long Beach — hold the highest overall market share, at 61.6 percent. Southern California’s share rose 1.5 percentage points from the previous year. The Port of Oakland's market share remained flat at 8.4 percent in the third quarter. The Pacific Northwest port region slipped 0.8 percentage point from 12.3 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2012 to 11.5 percent in 2013.
Mexico's Port of Lazaro Cardenas held a 4.4 percent share of the North American Pacific Coast market in the third quarter of 2013, a drop of 1 percentage point from a year ago. Canadian ports expanded their share in the third quarter by 0.2 percentage point to 14.2 percent.
The major west coast Canadian ports, which include Vancouver and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, saw throughput volume totaling 891,186 TEUs in the third quarter of 2013, climbing 3.3 percent from 862,883 TEUs in 2012. Vancouver’s throughput rose 5.7 percent year-over-year to 754,082 TEUs, and its market share inched up from 11.5 percent to 12.0 percent. However, Prince Rupert saw a drop in throughput of 8.3 percent this quarter to 137,104 TEUs; its market share slipped from 2.4 percent to 2.2 percent year-over-year.
Throughput at Lazaro Cardenas tumbled 16.9 percent year-over-year in the third quarter to 273,727 TEUs. In an attempt to crack down on surrounding drug war activity and the import of chemicals used for drugs, the Mexican military took over administration and port captaincy of Lazaro Cardenas in early November. It is yet to be seen whether this will affect traffic at the port.
Overall U.S. throughput was up year-over-year in the third quarter, climbing 2.7 percent to 5,118,326 TEUs. Portland saw the largest year-over-year jump in throughput in the third quarter, with volume jumping 56.6 percent to 42,911 TEUs from a relatively low volume of 27,400 TEUs in the third quarter of 2012. July volume had the greatest comparison change; volume dipped from 16,521 TEUs in July 2011 to 2,283 TEUs in 2012 and rose to 15,712 TEUs in 2013. Josh Thomas, marketing and media relations manager of marine and industrial development at the port, explained that they were “experiencing slowdowns, shutdowns and diverted vessels at the container terminal due to a jurisdictional dispute involving the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, IBEW, their terminal operator ICTSI Oregon and the port. This was over jobs responsible for the plugging, unplugging and monitoring of refrigerated containers. That situation improved somewhat in August. While productivity remained below historic levels, container volumes did increase in the months and year following.”
Seattle saw a drop in volume of 10.2 percent this quarter, from 363,337 to 326,394 TEUs, with its market share falling slightly from 5.9 percent to 5.2 percent. Tacoma’s market share inched down 0.4 percentage points to 5.7 percent. Throughput was down 4.3 percent to 355,419 TEUs from 371,240 TEUs in the third quarter of 2012.
Traffic volume in Los Angeles fell 1.9 percent from the third quarter of 2012 to 2,087,930 TEUs. Its year-over-year market share fell 1.2 percentage points to 33.2 percent, the largest third quarter drop among all North American west coast ports. Oakland saw an increase of 2.0 percent to 526,101 TEUs in the third quarter. Long Beach’s volume, however, jumped 12.8 percent in the third quarter to 1,779,571 TEUs from 1,577,954 TEUs in the same quarter last year, lifting its market share from 25.5 percent to 28.3 percent, the largest increase of all west coast ports.