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Portland May Lose
Dedicated Container Terminal

by Staff
Container Management, January 11, 2018

The container ship Benjamin Franklin calls at Terminal 18 of the Port of Seattle.  West Coast container port operators and the union representing longshoremen have agreed to hold further talks to extend their contract and avoid a work slowdown. A consultant has recommended that Portland's Terminal 6 (T-6) container terminal converts to become a multi-use terminal because of reduced Transpacific calls at the terminal.

According to the Port of Portland, the consultant concluded the most viable T-6 business model is a multi-use terminal that dedicates revenues from other terminal activities to support container service.

The study found that Portland's ability to recover weekly transpacific container service is hindered by its geography as a river port – situated roughly 80 km down the Columbia river. The study also said that marine industry consolidation had made container volumes harder to come by for Portland.

In a statement, the Port of Portland said that the study showed that key to the port's success "is attracting carriers providing service to Asia that serve the region's primary export and import markets, along with maintaining competitive terminal rates, keeping labour productivity levels at or above West Coast standards, reducing costs, and securing container volume support from the shipping community".

"This analysis reinforced that there is no silver bullet for container service," said Curtis Robinhold, Port executive director. "With the strong backing of shippers, labour and businesses, I'm hopeful that we can continue to offer container service options for shippers at T-6, while ensuring long-term financial stability. We heard strong support from our partners in the shipping community that they are willing do to what it takes to help support container service at the terminal."

As a part of the study, the port convened an industry leader committee comprised of 23 members with diverse representation including exporters, importers, service providers, carriers, ports, trade unions and legislators with strong shipper interests to provide industry knowledge and guidance to the Port on the T-6 container business study.

"Terminal 6 has tremendous economic benefit for all of Oregon," said Del Allen, president of Allports Companies, an international freight forwarder, and member of the industry leader committee. "This was an excellent process that established a great spirit of cooperation among labour and business stakeholders with the Port. Future success will require strong shipper support to attract carriers and strong Port and labor alignment to ensure the operation is financially sustainable."

The day before this announcement, the Port had announced the start of a new daily rail shuttle to Seattle and Tacoma. "The rail service will complement the monthly container ship call by giving our local shippers another path to market," said Robinhold, "we hope to continue building on this momentum and interest at T-6."

Related Pages:
Here's Why Portland Won't Get New Shipping Container Service Anytime Soon by James Cronin, Portland Business Journal, 5/9/16

Portland May Lose Dedicated Container Terminal
Container Management, January 11, 2018

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