Port of Virginia reports dip in cargo as it reduces empty containers
The Port of Virginia reported a dip in cargo in May as it reduced empty containers moving across its terminals while its two largest facilities undergo major expansion projects.
The port handled 236,893 TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, in May, a decline of 4 percent from May 2017.
Cargo volumes at Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT) and Virginia Inland Port (VIP) and were up 46 percent and 2 percent, respectively; barge volume was up 3 percent and rail was up 2 percent.
“Our May volumes dipped when compared with last year, but the drop was somewhat by design as we are asking our customers to limit the movement of empty containers to ensure that our effort during expansion is focused on loaded export and import boxes,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said in a statement.
“Another factor is that last April, when the alliances went into service, there was an influx of volume moving across Virginia on the big ships that were taking advantage of our deep water and making first-in and last-out calls here,” he said. “Now, as expected, the alliances have spread-out that volume across the East Coast.
During the port’s fiscal-year, which ends June 30, volumes continue to track ahead of last year: total TEUs are up 3 percent; Virginia Inland Port volume is up 3.6 percent; Richmond Marine Terminal is up nearly 20 percent; total barge traffic up 5.2 percent; truck volume up 5 percent; vehicle units up nearly 3 percent; breakbulk tonnage up is up 5.1 percent; and rail volume is off 0.5 percent.
The port continues to introduce new capacity at its Virginia International Gateway marine terminal in Portsmouth with three new container stacks set to come online in the middle of this month. The first stacks went to work the week of May 14, in conjunction with the successful launch of a new terminal operating system, Navis N4, at VIG.
The port’s largest terminal, Norfolk International Terminals, also is undergoing a major expansion project.
The port this month is also anticipating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final report on deepening the Norfolk Harbor’s commercial shipping channels to 55 feet and widening them in certain areas. The report, called the Chief’s Report, is expected to be released near the end of the month end and provide the necessary authorization to move ahead.
In early June, the Virginia General Assembly approved $350 million for the project that will make The Port of Virginia the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast.
May Cargo Snapshot
• Loaded export TEUs – 85,159, down 0.8 percent
• Loaded import TEUs – 108,592, up 8 percent
• Containers – 134,803, down 4.5 percent
• Virginia Inland Port Containers – 3,207, up 1.9 percent
• Rail Containers – 47,678, up 1.8 percent
• Truck Containers – 82,905, down 8.2 percent
• Total Barge Containers – 4,220 up 3.3 percent
• Richmond Barge Containers – 2,466, up 46.4 percent
• Vehicle Units – 3,782, up 352.4 percent