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  • Maggie Mildenberger

US Port Review - October 2023

General Notes:

  • Panama Canal Congestion

    • At the start of October, the affect of this congestion on US Container imports is minimal. Bulk and tanker shipments are routinely delayed.

    • Panama has suffered from drought conditions throughout 2023, which has led to water levels in Gatun Lake to drop to a 4-year low.

      • As a result, the number of vessels able to transit the canal per day has been lowered, and the vessels transiting are required to be up to 40% lighter than normal.

      • Currently these restrictions will be in place for another 10 months (June 2024).

      • At the start of October there are over 200 vessels waiting on either side of the canal (see photos below).

      • Read more here and here.

The photo above shows the container vessels moving near Panama.

The second photo is all vessels.


US Port Overview

  • At the start of October, we see that all US ports are operating with minimal delays.

    • One key exception is Savannah. It has quite a large backlog of vessels for the second month in a row. This port was temporarily slowed down by weather, including hurricane threats, over the past 1-2 months.

    • We are now in the US peak season for container imports. If traffic follows a typical year expect a small uptick in transit and delays over the next few months.


Fuel Updates

  • Ocean Fuel (VLSFO) has been at a stable price for most of 2023, over the last 6 weeks it has risen approximately 10%.

    • Throughout September this fuel increased 4.5% on average

  • Diesel in the USA as the start of October is $4.59 a gallon (California is $1.67 more per gallon)

    • While diesel has seen slight declines throughout the first half of the year, the price continues to keep freight prices high.

      • Diesel has increased 10% over the last 5 weeks.

    • Additionally, average diesel prices reported by are typically lower than truck stop prices, and are average across large sections of the country.


Data Analysis:

  • August imports were in line with 2019, with slightly higher growth than previous months.

  • East / Gulf coast ports were roughly equal to the west coast in August.

    • So far delays caused by Panama, for container shipping, are minimal.

The PDF below is port-by-port review across the U.S. in October 2023 compared to 2022 & 2021.

US Port Review October 2023
Download PDF • 629KB


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