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SC Port volume up nearly six percent in 2013

  • Thursday, January 23, 2014

  • Updated Friday, January 24, 2014 1:21 am

Clayton Stairs/Times This ship was docked at the Georgetown Port Thursday. Cargo at Georgetown is up 20 percent in the fiscal year to date.

Charleston — The S.C. Ports Authority has announced volume increases across all business segments in 2013, a year marked by the successful opening of the Inland Port and significant progress of both the construction of the Navy Base container terminal and the Post-45 harbor deepening project.

Cargo at Georgetown is up 20 percent in the fiscal year to date, with 302,242 total pier tons moved so far.

Business at the Port of Georgetown is currently up 8.7 percent over plan for the fiscal year.

“The volume increase in 2013 was driven primarily by cement cargo to support the northeast construction industry,” said Erin Pabst, spokesperson for the SC Ports Authority.

“In terms of the future, we continue working to grow cargo and increase tonnage in order for the Port of Georgetown to have the opportunity to qualify for operation and maintenance funds.”

In calendar year-end results presented at the authority’s regular board meeting, container volumes in South Carolina ports measured in 20-foot equivalent units were up 5.7 percent from 2012 to 2013, with over 1.6 million TEUs handled during the year. Breakbulk cargo also grew during the period, increasing 3.3 percent over 2012 volumes.

Midway through the SCPA’s fiscal year that began July 1, state ports have seen a 5.4 percent increase in TEUs over the same period last year, and container volume remains slightly over plan. SC Ports handled 124,103 TEUs in December.

“We typically see a modest first quarter of the calendar year followed by a stronger second quarter, and we expect 2014 to follow a similar trend,” said Jim Newsome, S.C. Ports president and CEO. “Much of our growth from April to June will be impacted by developments in export business and the implementation of the mega-alliance deployments by ocean carriers, if and when approved.”

In addition to cargo volume growth in 2013, containerized rail shipments at state ports grew 18 percent last year, a 50 percent increase since 2011. Those shipments now represent about 16 percent of overall port volume, driven largely by a successful implementation the port’s RapidRail drayage program that includes participation by all major carriers.

Maintenance projects

The board heard updates on two proposed projects for the North Charleston terminal, including replacement of the current refrigerated cargo (reefer) overhead electrical network with an underground service and surface upgrades to the RTG container storage area to increase storage capacity.

In addition, a maintenance repair project for the Columbus Street Terminal substructure was reviewed. Final bids on all three projects will be presented to the board for approval at the February meeting.

Cruise lawsuit

The board also discussed the South Carolina Supreme Court dismissal of the lawsuit filed in the June 2011 alleging the operations of Carnival Cruise Lines in Charleston are unlawful or a nuisance to citizens.

Newsome praised the court for hearing the case in its original jurisdiction and reiterated that the cruise industry is an important part of the port’s business diversification.

Mulvaney’s remarks

Before the meeting convened, Congressman Mick Mulvaney joined the SCPA Board to discuss harbor deepening efforts, particularly the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in October.

“As we move into a global economy, the importance of being able to ship goods into and out of South Carolina is absolutely critical,” Mulvaney said.

“The WRRDA will allow harbor dredging to begin five to seven years earlier than it would have otherwise, and it’s important for our delegation to continue working together. Everyone in South Carolina recognizes the economic development value of the port.”

Bill Stern, SCPA board chairman, thanked Mulvaney for his consistent support and vision on port issues.

“There has never been a more critical time that we pull together to foster job creation and economic development, expansion of existing industry and foreign investments in our state,” Stern said. “Today we give much-deserved appreciation to our state leaders who support the port. We look forward to many opportunities to work together to solidify South Carolina’s standing as a top port on the East Coast, the country and the world.”

About the SCPA

The SC Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston, Georgetown and Greer, handling international commerce valued at more than $63 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy.

An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.

For more information, visit www.scspa.com.

— From SC Ports Authority

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