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Ports & Terminals

Long Beach’s Cordero predicts LA/LB will process 19 million TEUs in 2021

Mario Cordero, executive director, Port of Long Beach, predicted the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports combined will process 19 million TEUs in 2021.

In a virtual press conference, Cordero said the 19 million TEUs projection for the two ports reflects “a new normal” whereby the two ports will continue to process the high volumes of import and export containers that began with the surge following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

This surge reflects increased buying power generated by the domestic economy as well as by the booming California economy, which drives containers through the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

Mario Cordero, executive director, Port of Long Beach
Mario Cordero, executive director, Port of Long Beach

During the press conference, Cordero noted other developments at the Port that are driving growth and productivity:

  • Completion of the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement has improved harbor truck traffic between terminals as well as on and off freeways.
  • The completion of the final stage of the $1.49 billion construction of the highly automated Long Beach Container Terminal’s (LBCT) will guarantee a capability of processing 3.3 million TEU per year. This may expand to 3.5 million TEUs “making LBCT the sixth largest port in the United States.”
  • The Short-Term Overflow Resource (STOR) at the Port’s Pier S was created in 2020 and holds 7,000 containers. It processes 1,200 truck moves per day.
  • The Port’s Pier B rail upgrade is the centerpiece of the Port’s $1 billion rail capital improvement program. It will shift more cargo to “on-dock rail,” where containers are taken to and from marine terminals by trains, significantly reducing truck trips throughout the region. These improvements “are going to be a game changer for the Port and will improve rail throughput.”

Cordero said that he is “concerned” about news reports of a spread of the COVID variant in China and in Vietnam and its potential impact on factories and ports. He said the Port is closely monitoring the situation. An outbreak at the Port of Yantian in China delayed some vessels that called at the Port of Long Beach in July.

The Port is working with the Long Beach Public Health Department to provide free vaccinations to mariners entering the Port. Cordero noted that 4,000 vaccinations have been administered to seafarers since May 2021.

Cordero expressed confidence that terminals will meet Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goals for zero emission cargo-handling equipment by 2030. He also believes harbor truckers will meet zero emission goals by 2035.

The Port of Long Beach announced that dockworkers and terminals moved 784,845 TEUs in July, a 4.2% increase for the same month a year ago. Imports slightly grew last month, at 382,940 TEUs, a 1.6% increase, while exports decreased 20.7% year-over-year to 109,951 TEUs. The rate of empties that moved out of the Port increased by 22.8%, to 291,955 TEUs.
“Our dockworkers and industry partners have risked their health to keep the gears of our economy turning during this pandemic,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “We thank them, and acknowledge their service as we continue a remarkable run of records at the Port of Long Beach.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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