A $14.7 million investment in the Georgia Ports Authority‚Äôs Brunswick facilities has significantly increased capacity, driving tremendous expansion in the Port of Brunswick‚Äôs auto-machinery and biomass fuel trades.
‚ÄúAnticipating growth in the roll-on/roll-off market and in Georgia‚Äôs renewable fuel exports, the GPA board made strategic investments that allowed Brunswick to take advantage of rapidly rising demand,‚ÄĚ said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.
The GPA board in March approved $3.7 million in structural upgrades at Colonel‚Äôs Island for roads, bridges, staging areas, rail loading/offloading areas, and fender upgrades. At Brunswick‚Äôs East River Terminal, $11 million in improvements support the export of bulk products such as peanut hull pellets, and wood pellets and chips. The GPA and terminal operator Logistec shared the cost of the upgrades, including a new conveyance system, a new fender system and dock renovations, as well as deepening existing berths.
Both terminals experienced double-digit cargo volume increases. Colonel‚Äôs Island handled 553,543 units of autos and machinery for 19 percent growth on the fiscal year. East River Terminal experienced a year-over-year tonnage increase of 14.1 percent to reach 663,446 tons, with growth led by biomass fuels.
‚ÄúThese upgrades will deliver increased capacity and greater efficiency and, in turn, additional jobs for our region,‚ÄĚ said Foltz.
At his 2012 Brunswick State of the Port address, Foltz outlined the deepwater port‚Äôs five-year record of success. In fiscal year 2008, the port handled 375,000 Ro/Ro units. In FY2012, that number had grown to the current 553,543 units, for approximately 46 percent growth compared to FY2008. Over the same period, Colonel‚Äôs Island more than doubled its national market share from 4 percent to 10 percent.
In FY2012, Colonel‚Äôs Island Terminal imported 765,902 tons of Ro/Ro cargo, making it the second busiest port in the nation for auto and machinery imports. Brunswick handles cargo for 21 domestic and foreign auto manufacturers. Eight ocean carriers made a total of 543 vessel calls on Brunswick in FY2012.
The East River Terminal experienced strong growth in the export of alternative fuels, largely to Northern Europe, where biomass fuels are used to replace part of that region‚Äôs coal consumption for energy production. ‚ÄúAt present, Brunswick has a wood pellet capacity of 1 million tons per year, but our capacity will increase to 3 million tons after the completion of an upcoming second phase of improvements,‚ÄĚ Foltz said.
Foltz said machinery exports also are set to expand even more after Governor Nathan Deal‚Äôs February announcement of a 1,400-job Caterpillar manufacturing facility near Athens. The factory will build small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators. Proximity to the state‚Äôs ports factored into the company‚Äôs decision to bring those jobs to Georgia, Foltz added.
Press Release, September 28, 2012