Port of New Orleans sees mixed results for August cargo volume

Vessel omissions and a shortage of shipping containers resulted in a mixed bag of throughput results at the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) in August.

Fourteen vessel omissions at the port in August represented a 30% increase in omissions compared to the same month last year.

“A lot of [the omissions are] attributed to how the carriers are dealing with their schedule recovery on the basis of what’s happening in the global supply chain,” Todd Rives, Port NOLA’s vice president and chief commercial officer, said Thursday during the port’s monthly board meeting.

New Orleans handled 42,589 twenty-foot equivalent units in August, a 0.3% increase compared to the same period last year.

Rives said TEU volumes were hampered by a shortage of cargo containers.

“Most of what is driving it is not getting the full import supply of empty equipment to be able to feed the exports,” Rives said.

Rives said breakbulk volume rebounded during the month, boosted by imports of plywood.

Port NOLA handled 159,518 tons of breakbulk cargo for the month, a 178% increase compared to the same period last year, when the port handled 57,200 tons.

The port handled 9,742 Class I railcar switches in August, a 3.6% decrease year-over-year. The port handles switching operations for the six Class I railroads that operate in New Orleans: BNSF Railway, CN, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

“On the rail side, we actually saw a reduction in total numbers, which is a direct result of Hurricane Ida, where we lost four full days of revenue at the end of August,” Mike Stolzman, general manager of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, said during the meeting.

Port NOLA, along with dozens of ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast, closed around Aug. 29 as Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm southwest of New Orleans. The port reopened on Sept. 3.

“We would have had a very good month in August had we not lost those four days. We saw a significant improvement in our local customer switching, and we were on our way to a very good month on our Class I switching,” Stolzman said.

Total TEU volume is up 8.5% year-to-date at the Port of New Orleans for the fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. Total breakbulk cargo is up 204% year-to-date.

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