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Rail News: Intermodal

Jacksonville port lands export log business; Long Beach port logs volume drop for February

American Log Handlers L.L.C. (ALH) recently began exporting southern yellow pine logs to China through the Port of Jacksonville's (JAXPORT) Blount Island and TraPac marine terminals in northern Florida.

The logs are used in China as lumber, primarily to form frames used to mold concrete for housing structures. The world's top three pine exporters to China — Russia, Canada and New Zealand — no longer are able to keep up with demand due to limited growing space, export limitations or their own infrastructure needs, ALH officials said in a press release.

ALH in late 2013 established a log yard in Yulee, Fla. The company purchases logs from yellow pine timberland owners in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, debarks them at the yard, then ships them to China in 40-foot containers through the port terminals. The Blount Island terminal is served by CSX Transportation and JAXPORT is establishing an intermodal container transfer facility at the TraPac terminal at Dames Point.

The new log business underscores JAXPORT's focus on significantly expanding its forestry product imports and exports in 2014, port officials said.

"There is a great demand for forestry commodities — logs, lumber, wood chips, wood pellets and wood pulp — which are used in a variety of consumer products around the world," said JAXPORT Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Roy Schleicher. "JAXPORT is well-positioned to handle this cargo with our extensive warehouse space, great access to rail and interstate connections, and ocean carriers servicing all the major trade lanes."

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach, Calif., yesterday announced its total February volume dipped 2.6 percent year over year to 517,173 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) because of the Chinese New Year's ripple effects.

Imports fell 2.7 percent to 271,671 TEUs and empty container volume plunged 8.3 percent to 101,930 TEUs, while exports rose 2.1 percent to 143,572 TEUs.

The Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated in China and other East Asia countries, fell on Jan. 31, beginning a two-week period during which many businesses closed to allow employees to be with their families, port officials said in a press release.

"Production is minimal and business is slow [in that period]," they said. "Because of the time for vessels to cross the Pacific, the port is impacted from mid-February to early March."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/19/2014