Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Port of Oakland’s new chief has work cut out for him

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
August 19, 2013

The Port of Oakland’s terminal operators have had to deal with severe congestion and delays for the past six weeks, thanks to dockside labor disruptions and wildcat actions by independent truckers. Today, the issue became more severe as 30 or more truckers shut down commerce at one terminal and threatened to interfere with two others.

Welcome to your new job, Chris Lytle.

As reported in LM last month, the former executive director of the Port of Long Beach was scheduled to start in his current role here in mid-July. Oakland’s leadership was badly upended by a fiduciary scandal that resulted in the resignation of Omar Benjamin and his maritime director, James Kwon.

“I know there are a lot of challenges here to deal with right away,” said Lytle in an interview with LM. “But Oakland has the resources and the transport advantages to deal with them.”

One of the chief advantages, say industry analysts, is Oakland’s position as a leading export gateway on the West Coast. Given its proximity to California’s agricultural core, Oakland has long been regarded as the premier outbound port for perishables.

“And we want that to only get stronger,” says Lytle. “We are currently dealing with the Port of Stockton to establish regular barge service to bring goods out of the central valley. This not only gets trucks off the road, but also expedites shipping.”

He acknowledges, however, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is insisting on being compensated for barge moves, too.

“It’s something that we are presently working on with the union,” said Lytle. “It’s a problem, but not an insurmountable one.”

Coinciding with Lytle’s leadership start here, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners unanimously approved a litigation settlement agreement with SSA Terminals, LLC and SSA Terminals (Oakland), LLC (collectively, “SSAT”), one of the port’s major long-term seaport tenants.

The settlement involves four of the port’s seven marine terminals, and will create operationally the 3rd largest terminal on the U.S. West Coast. In terms of size and operational efficiencies, this new “mega-terminal” will be more in line with competing terminals, allowing the port to sustain and attract more maritime cargo.

This does not mean, however, that Oakland will necessarily repeat its major thrust to attract more inbound cargo calls.

“At least not for the time being,” said Lytle. “We know that our main attraction is for ag shippers to have a reliable partner. We are going to build upon that strength first, before going after new carrier business.”

Lytle also said that he would explore “sea/air” transport strategies using the Oakland airport as a shipping partner.

“It’s an option that has not been evaluated recently,” he allowed,  “but one certainly worth considering.”

About the Author

image
Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Following the lead of its Congressional Colleagues in the House of Representatives, the United States Senate yesterday approved a measure geared to keep federal surface transportation funding intact through the end of December with a nearly $11 billion stopgap fix.

XPO Logistics announced second quarter earnings and the acquisition of two companies, New Breed Logistics, a non asset-based 3PL focusing in contract logistics services, for roughly $615 million, and Atlantic Central Logistics, a 3PL provider of last-mile logistics services, for roughly $36.5 million.

The report, entitled “Outlook for the Domestic Transport and Logistics Market in 2H14 and Beyond,” takes the view that strong freight levels in the second quarter have left trucking companies in a good position: one in which they need to come up with new plans to handle rising demand. But even with that positive momentum afloat, the report observes that there are some familiar challenges intact, such as a lack of qualified drivers and the regulatory drag from the new hours-of-service rules that took effect in July 2013.

Flags of Convenience are a fact of life in the commercial maritime trade, but several European political action groups are worried that they will pose a threat to the Continent’s air cargo industry.

For May, which is the most recent month for which data is available, the SCI is -7.5, following April’s -7.5. FTR said this reading represents a still-tight capacity environment, as utilization rates hover between 98 percent and 99 percent.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA