Competitive Edge

December 15th, 2021

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Ocean Freight Market Update


  • Port of New Orleans adds four new cranes in efforts to expand its capacity. 
  • Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have both postponed imposing fees on containers left on docks too long, citing progress in moving cargo from marine terminals.  
  • CN has resumed service on its Kamloops-Vancouver corridor, the Canadian railway said recently, restoring a critical link to the Port of Vancouver.  
  • Maersk, in cooperation with Hyundai Heavy Industries, is set to build eight container vessels, powered by carbon-neutral methanol, with an expected capacity to haul 16,000 TEUs.  


  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: 70 Backlogged Vessels 
  • Several vessels have been rerouted to designated waiting zones off the coast of Baja California 
  • Savannah: 21 Backlogged Vessels 
  • Baltimore: 18 Backlogged Vessels 

IMPORT: Asia to North America (TPEB) 

Recent Developments 

  • Space pinch expected on TPEB through the end of 2021 and into early 2022 as carriers announce additional blank sailings 
  • Reductions in available capacity due to congestion-related delays, changing schedules, and COVID-related restrictions 

Rates: Rate levels remain high due to increased pre-Lunar New Year and premium market demand. 

Space: Remains especially critical.  

Capacity/Equipment: Severe undercapacity and critical deficits in available equipment.  

TIPS: Book 5 or more weeks prior to CRD. Seriously consider requesting premium services for higher reliability and no-roll guarantees.  

IMPORT: Europe to North America (TAWB) 

Recent Developments 

  • USWC ports, specifically LA/LB, remain heavily congested, however there has been improvements at the docks.  
  • USEC port congestion is currently manageable as vessels find alternative ports in place of Savannah. 

Rates: Rates are set to remain high in December for both USEC and USWC. Peak season surcharge (PSS) increases for USWC ports is in place via announcement by a few lines.   

Space: Remains critical, especially to the USWC. 

Capacity/Equipment: Capacity remains tight for both North Europe and Mediterranean services. Equipment availability has improved at ports but remains hard to come by at inland depots.  

TIPS: Book 5 or more weeks prior to CRD. Seriously consider requesting premium services for higher reliability and no-roll guarantees.  

EXPORT: North America to Asia 

Recent Developments 

  • Diminishing schedule integrity is posing serious challenges with posted earliest return dates and vessel cut-offs at the USEC ports.  
  • General rate increases (GRIs) anticipated for select Southeast Asia and Oceania destinations come January.  

Rates: Multiple GRIs will likely continue to be implemented for exports bound to both Indian and Australian destinations.  

Capacity/Equipment: Vessel arrivals and available capacity remain smooth for USWC POLs. USEC capacity has also been more readily available. IPI origins are continuing to be plagued by container and chassis shortages. At ports, availability for special equipment remains elusive.  

TIPS: Place bookings 4 to 6 weeks in advance to secure the appropriate equipment and vessel space.   

Freight News

The Port of Savannah and South Carolina Ports have seen record months of volume

The Port of Savannah has seen another record month, this time in November. They handled 495,750 twenty-foot equivalent units, which is a 6.7% increase from November 2020, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. Interestingly enough, the port authority expects another 500,000 TEUs to come online in March 2022, and by June 2022 a total of 1.6 TEUs of new capacity is anticipated to be available, reported by Freightwaves. Last Tuesday, it was reported by Freightwaves of how the Georgia Ports Authority has been reducing backlogs at the ports by using “pop-up” container yards for the past month.

Along with the Port of Savannah, the South Carolina Ports have seen a record in November, achieving an all-time high for the number of containers that they have handled in a single month. According to Freightwaves, the SC Ports handled 250,7111 TEUs at the Wando Welch, North Charleston and Hugh K. Leatherman terminals at the Port of Charleston in November, which comes to be 21% higher than November 2020. The South Carolina Ports continue to bring fluidity to the supply chain with their consistent and creative, responsive solutions to shippers’ needs.

Port Houston’s trade jumps, exports and imports have increased

For the first 10 months of 2021, Port Houston’s trade totaled $137 billion, which is a 31% increase compared to the same period in 2020. Then in October, according to Freightwaves, Port Houston’s trade totaled $16.9 billion, which is an increase of 51% compared to the same period last year.

According to Freightwaves:

  • Exports have increased 50% year-over-year in October, with imports growing to 53%.
    • Top exports included gasoline/fuels ($2.08 billion); liquified natural gas/petroleum gases ($1.45 billion); oil ($1.34 billion); plastics ($575 million); and acyclic hydrocarbons ($318 million)

The port is also ranked sixth for total trade, which is among the nation’s roughly 450 airports, seaports, and border crossings, and is the third-ranked seaport behind Port of Los Angeles and Port of Newark. The port also has plans for the future, according to Freightwaves, the Port plans to invest in additional yard capacity and equipment’s, 12 ship-to-shore cranes, 19 rubber-tired gantry cranes, two additional container yards, two new container berths, additional wharves/turning basin facilities and redevelopment of general cargo and breakbulk docks.

Blog Of The Week

Export Container Dwell Times Have Been Increased Due To Berthing Delays

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We discuss west coast port congestion & LA port fee update, increases in blank sailings for transpacific lanes, current events and more!

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