Port of Oakland cuts free wait time for import containers

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Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland has reduced free dwell time for import containers to ease congestion clogging its terminals, as demurrage rates could soon increase.

On 1 July, the port cut tariff-free time from seven days to four and announced increased penalties for containers sitting for too long may follow.

Two terminal operators at the Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma have been charging long-dwell fees since November 2021, and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced surcharges in October 2021 but repeatedly delayed the implementation.

In May, Maersk reported that the likelihood of the “Container Dwell Fee” being implemented had risen significantly.

The surcharge would help to alleviate some of the pressure facing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach amid the ongoing congestion crisis.

READ: Increasing Container Dwell: addressing the challenge of high yard utilisation

The Port of Oakland is not involved with assigning demurrage rates. The late fees are charged by both the shipping lines and the marine terminals when a container is not moved out of the port within the free days offered.

Executive Director at the Port of Oakland, Danny Wan, said: “Rates need to be higher to encourage cargo owners to move their cargo faster,” as he criticised customers using terminals as storage facilities in the face of congested networks.

According to CNBC, the port is experiencing the longest dwelling times for import containers.

“The average dwell in Oakland terminal is now 9 to 12 days,” said Wan.

“It used to be 3 to 4 days. If we do not move the containers out quicker, we may have vessel congestion.”

The Port of Oakland import cargo volumes increased in May despite global supply chain woes, but the outlook for the rest of the year remains uncertain amidst concerns over inflation.

Full imports in May 2022 were up 6.7 per cent compared to the same month a year ago. However, overall cargo volume (full imports, full exports, plus empties) for the month was down just under 1 per cent compared to May 2021.

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