USA: Port of Charleston Moves in Right Direction

In results announced at the regular Board meeting, South Carolina’s public seaport system continued above-market growth during fiscal year 2013.

Container business at the Port of Charleston was up nine percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, with 1.56 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled during the past 12 months.

The shipping industry trend toward mega-consortia will ultimately be an advantage for deepwater harbors, like Charleston,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), referring to the rise of new carrier consortia such as the G6 and, more recently, the P3. “While just under the aggressive target we set for the past fiscal year, Charleston’s growth remains at more than double the average market growth for the nation’s ports,” he said.

June container figures were up four percent from the same month last year, reflecting the start of new or upsized container services in the port this summer. Charleston’s two container facilities handled 125,257 TEUs last month.

Charleston’s non-container facilities – Columbus Street, Union Pier and Veterans terminals – handled 1.12 million tons of bulk and breakbulk cargo in FY13, a 30 percent jump from the previous year. While breakbulk volumes grew around one percent, the biggest gains in these combined segments were associated with a large-scale, local paving project that has since concluded.

In the Port of Georgetown, business at the dock was off 10 percent, with 494,645 pier tons handled from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

Additional highlights from FY13 included:

– Major progress on the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer. Since officially breaking ground on the project in March, work on the site has been proceeding rapidly. The facility is slated to be fully operational in October, following testing onsite in September;

– Continued advancements on Charleston’s Harbor Deepening Project, including the selection as one of the Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives. This past year alone, more than $5 million in cost savings and five years off of the project timeline have been announced;

– The completion of a follow-up port air emissions inventory for the Tri-County region, which found significant reductions in air pollutants related to port operations in 2011 as compared to 2005 levels;

– An affirmed A1 credit rating and stable outlook by Moody’s Investors Service, which underscores the SCPA’s strong operating history, favorable financial performance and distinct advantages such as deep water.

In other action, the SCPA Board approved a contract for nearly $2 million related to dike raising at Drum Island, a 200-acre upland disposal site for material from berth maintenance dredging at Columbus Street and Union Pier terminals. L&L Contractors, Inc. of Andrews, South Carolina was awarded a $1.99-million construction contract to raise the dikes by six feet, which will create an additional 1.5 million cubic yards of dredge capacity at the site.

Press Release, July 22, 2013

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