US Port Review - October 2023
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).
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.
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 EIA.gov are typically lower than truck stop prices, and are average across large sections of the country.
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.