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Monday, May 10, 2021

Logistics Intelligence Brief

Trucking

Spot volume and rates surge during International Roadcheck week

FTR Transportation Intelligence May 10, 2021

Load postings and rates in the Truckstop.com system already were at record levels when the spot market faced one of its biggest annual stress events: The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck. The three-day driver/vehicle inspection spree occurred during the week ended May 7 (week 18), resulting in sharp increases in volume and rates and a sharp drop in truck postings. Thus, week 18 saw records for loads, rates, and the Market Demand Index – the ratio of loads to trucks. Dry van load postings jumped 29.6% for its largest increase since week 7. Volume was about 22% below the record level, which was posted in week 8 during the weather-related surge. Load postings were about 384% higher than the same 2020 week and about triple the five-year average (2015-2019). Dry van truck postings fell nearly 10%, and the dry van MDI rose to the highest level in 10 weeks.

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Industry

U.S. Pipeline Shutdown Exposes Cyber Threat to Energy Sector (Subscription Based)

The Wall Street Journal Collin Eaton et al. May 9, 2021

Colonial ferries 100 million gallons a day of gasoline, diesel and other refined petroleum products from the country’s chief refining corridor along the Gulf Coast to Linden, N.J. It transports roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company’s website. Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell PLC, one the owners of the Colonial Pipeline, said Sunday it is still too early to “be specific about potential impacts to product flow.” He said Shell is actively engaged with Colonial. On Sunday, Colonial didn’t provide a timeline for bringing the pipeline back into service but said that while its main lines remained offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points were once again operational. It said it was working to restore IT systems and developing a plan to start the pipeline back up when it had approval from federal regulators.

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Ongoing high import levels remain a key theme of Port Tracker report

Logistics Management Jeff Berman May 7, 2021

The report explained that imports hit a new record this spring, with volume over the first half of 2021 pegged to be up by one-third annually, or 33.9%, driven by the economy continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in line with previous editions of the report, which observed that U.S.-bound retail container imports are expected to “grow dramatically” over the first half of the year, with the import surge now extending through the summer months, with retailers focused on meeting high levels of consumer demand. And the report also noted that first half growth is “skewed,” due to the significant drop-off in imports over the first six months of 2020, adding that the six-month total of 12.7 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) would put 2021 on pace to eclipse 2020’s 22 million TEU.

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Workforce

Jobs report shows getting drivers into the pool remains a struggle

Freight Waves John Kingston May 7, 2021

Jason Miller, an associate professor of logistics at Michigan State University, looked at the sector breakdown for March and notes that the truckload category is down 20,000 jobs in the past two years. “This helps explain why capacity has been so tight,” he said in an email to FreightWaves. There were similar trends in the categories for LTL and specialized freight, with current driver numbers well below those of 2019, Miller said. The report released Friday was the first that compared this year to April of last year, when the pandemic was fully gripping markets. That comparison showed a gain of all truck transportation jobs of 51,900 year-on-year, which essentially means comparisons to 2019 are far more relevant since April 2020 is such an outlier. Terrazas also dived into the detailed data from March and drew a few conclusions about the supply of drivers. He said that “active employment” of owner-operators is at or exceeding levels before the pandemic, “but there is also evidence of elevated numbers of owner-operators sitting on the sidelines of the labor market.” But he also said there have been “reasonably strong new entrants” in the owner-operator supply of drivers.

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Technology/Innovation

Experts Say Cyberattack on Pipeline Is a Wake-Up Call

Associated Press/Transport Topics Mae Anderson and Frank Bajak May 9, 2021

“Its an all-hands-on-deck effort right now,” Raimondo said. “And we are working closely with the company, state and local officials to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren’t disruptions in supply.” The person close to the Colonia Pipeline investigation said that before activating the ransomware, the attackers stole data, presumably to be used for extortion. Sometimes stolen data is more valuable to ransomware criminals than the leverage they gain by crippling a network, because some victims are loath to see sensitive information of theirs dumped online. Colonial did not say whether it has paid or was negotiating a ransom, and DarkSide neither announced the attack on its dark web site nor responded to an Associated Press reporter’s queries. The lack of acknowledgment usually indicates a victim is either negotiating or has paid.

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Government/Safety/Sustainability

FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration to June 8 Due to Pipeline Cyberattack

Transport Topics Eugene Mulero May 9, 2021

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is providing emergency relief from hour-of-service regulations to motor carriers and drivers assisting operations linked to refined petroleum supply chains in the East Coast in the wake of a cyberattack against Colonial Pipeline, which has extensive operations across multiple states. The agency issued an emergency relief declaration May 9, and indicated the relief would be in effect through June 8 or until officials determine the emergency to be over. The declaration covers operations in Alabama, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

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