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Pipeline Spill May Impact Vessels at Port of LA, Norfolk Southern Reopens Terminal, & Port Congestion & Container Shortages Continue

By October 7, 2021 No Comments


Pipeline spill could impact containerships waiting to enter the Port of LA. Thought to be one of the largest oil spills in California’s recent history, Amplify Energy’s pipeline breach about five miles offshore Newport and Huntington Beaches spilled approximately 3,000 barrels of oil, resulting in more than five miles of an oil slick along the coastline.

While operations and arrivals at the Port of Los Angeles have not been affected, the location of the oil spill is just south of the 60 plus containerships and 20 vessels waiting to enter the Ports of LA and Long Beach. The spill could affect a number of vessels queued in San Pedro Bay on berths as they may need to be cleaned, potentially causing more delays. 


A surge of imports and large cargo volumes lead to more congestion and shortages. An unexpected development of landside congestion in the Pacific Northwest has resulted in vessel bunching, increased container dwell times at marine terminals, and an extreme chassis shortage at the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA). As peak season continues and imports flood the Seattle-Tacoma port complex, problems may remain and worsen. Additionally, the large cargo volumes are also reducing the capacity of the truck and driver fleet needed to dray inbound containers to the warehouses and outbound loads from the warehouse to the U.S. interior.

Truckers who miss appointments for import retrievals at container ports in the Port of New York and New Jersey will be assessed a new fee. According to the latest tariff from the New York Terminal Conference, truckers who fail to show up for an appointment in the NY-NJ port will be charged a $62.49 administrative fee starting Oct. 1. The fee is part of a three-month pilot program and is intended to increase efficiency and speed up freight delivery. Additionally, the aim is to prompt more truckers to make their appointments.

Transload activity has increased in Vancouver in recent weeks, putting significant strain on domestic container supply. Due to increased transloading activity in Vancouver, demand for 53-foot domestic containers has soared, resulting in shippers having to wait days for boxes, regardless if they can pay for access to Canadian Pacific’s guaranteed equipment pool. It’s the newest example of what trucking companies and freight forwarders claim is a worsening bottleneck at Vancouver’s ports and warehouses.

Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) reopens intermodel terminal to help reduce excessive dwell times. As shippers at the Port of Virginia experience prolonged dwell times and Norfolk Southern Railway’s single facility in Louisville, Kentucky, remains overburdened with containers, their decision to reopen an intermodal terminal will hopefully bring much-needed relief. Norfolk International Facilities (NIF) and Virginia International Gateway reopened their Buechel intermodal facility for ocean containers (VIG). In September, dwell periods for inland point intermodal containers at both terminals increased. Reopening of Buechel should hopefully mean shippers get their freight faster on the rail.


Ocean delays and port congestion continue to turn retailers to air freight, increasing emissions. Desperate to transport goods in time for the holiday season and avoid the bottlenecks at Asian hubs and U.S. ports, retailers are leveraging air freight to ship goods. This switch is having environmental effects, emitting more carbon into the air—up to 22 times more than ocean vessels. These modal shifts are more likely as the costs between different types of transportation are narrowing due to unreliable ocean scheduling and growing port congestion.


A surge in imports at the Port of Vancouver has caused trucking conditions to deteriorate in the past two weeks. A surge of imports has caused local warehouses to be beyond capacity, causing a severe chassis shortage. As a result, trans-Pacific shipping lines have restricted how many containers will be accepted at marine terminals. Therefore, truckers have been left with “empties” sitting on chassis with nowhere to take them. 


Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) reopens Louisville intermodal terminal. This intermodal terminal will specifically handle ocean freight from the Port of Virginia. The terminal opened on October 4th and will be open only for containers coming from Virginia’s two largest container terminals. The Louisville terminal will give shippers one additional free day for containers after the notification day of release. 


Analysis: Supply chain workers around the globe are at a breaking point. It’s no secret that supply chain stress has taken a toll on workers in the maritime, trucking, air, and cargo sectors. With added pressure of growing congestion, import surges, holiday peak seasons, and a whole pandemic to worry about, shipping and freight associations are urging world leaders and the U.S. government to take action to remedy these issues.

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