Bulk shipping operations could soon return to the Port of Oakland for the first time in 20 years.
The port authority has revealed that it is negotiating with Canadian building materials shipper Eagle Rock Aggregates to import sand and gravel to the US port.
The firm is seeking one vessel berth and 20 acres of adjacent land at the port’s Outer Harbor Terminal. The company would ship sand and gravel from British Columbia to produce concrete for Bay Area builders.
Oakland is one of the busiest container seaports in the US, handling 2.5M TEU last year. The port authority said that a deal for bulk shipping would not hamper container handling operations. It explained that it does not envision using the property for container handling until 2035.
With nearly 1,300 acres of port property devoted to containerised cargo, the Outer Harbor Terminal is currently used for container-related activities, as well as berthing for vessels in lay-up for extended periods.
“This is an opportunity for us to perhaps diversify our business,” said John Driscoll, the port’s maritime director. “We’ve built the port of Oakland to be a global gateway for containerised cargo, but a steady, divergent revenue stream could be beneficial.”
The port began life in 1927 handling bulk commodities loaded directly into the holds of ships. Oakland claims to have revolutionised shipping when it introduced containerised cargo to the West Coast in 1962. It then abandoned bulk in 1999 by adopting Vision 2000, a totally containerised cargo strategy. The current negotiations with Eagle Rock could see the port return to its roots, albeit on a small scale.