With volumes continuing to climb, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board of Directors has approved its fiscal year 2014 financial plan, which includes volume increases across business segments and $123 million in capital spending on a number of strategic projects.
During its regular monthly meeting, the Board approved the SCPA’s fiscal plan for the coming 12 months. From July 1 to June 30, capital spending of $123 million will fund major infrastructure investments such as the new container terminal at the former Navy Base, new equipment to handle the increased size of ships in the port as well as other upgrades to existing facilities.
The largest single area of spending is for the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer, SC, with $29.1 million planned to cover the remaining SCPA share of the project. The new facility is slated for a September 2013 opening.
“Our public seaport system is an economic engine, spurring opportunity all across South Carolina,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the SCPA Board. “The inland port will further expand the port’s connection to the Upstate and will drive job creation and investment to that region.”
While the SCPA is a public agency, it does not utilize taxpayer dollars to fund its ongoing capital or operating needs. The SCPA’s capital spending plan is funded internally and by the SCPA’s ability to borrow long term in the marketplace.
The financial plan also projects a nearly six percent increase in container volume on the strength of new, weekly services commencing this summer and increased volume from existing services.
“Above-market growth is essential to carrying out our aggressive investment plans over the coming years,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. “As post-Panamax ships continue to be deployed in the Port of Charleston, our deep shipping channels and dockside infrastructure become even more critical. Our plan reflects investments that will keep our ports competitive as our customers decide where to place service strings and route cargo.”
In addition to container growth, also included in the FY2014 plan is a nearly 10 percent increase in breakbulk and non-containerized cargo at the Port of Charleston, due in part to a new, weekly service from Grieg Star Shipping announced earlier this year. The service calls at Union Pier Terminal.
At the Port of Georgetown, the SCPA projects a more than 13 percent boost in volume at the facility, which primarily handles bulk cement and petroleum coke products.
Furthermore, the fiscal plan calls for an increase in personnel, including the addition of 12 jobs at the South Carolina Inland Port.
May Volume Results & Other Board Action
In other business, the SCPA Board approved $24.9 million in spending for two new, super post-Panamax dockside cranes for North Charleston Terminal. The new, larger cranes replace two cranes built in 1989 and will have the outreach and lift capacity necessary to efficiently handle bigger ships in the port. Shanghai-based ZPMC, which previously delivered four super post-Panamax cranes to Charleston in 2007, will construct and deliver the cranes. The new equipment is expected to be delivered to the port during the summer of 2015.
Also during the meeting, the SCPA shared volume results for the month of May, which saw volume increases in both containerized and non-containerized cargo.
Container volume last month reached 139,143 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a five percent gain over the same month last year and the strongest month since October 2008. Charleston’s non-containerized tonnage shot up nearly 56 percent in May, with 93,495 pier tons handled, while volume at the Port of Georgetown climbed 2.5 percent, or 43,139 pier tons for the month.
In the 2013 fiscal year to date (from July 2012 to May 2013), TEU volume in the Port of Charleston was up 9.4 percent from the previous year while pier tons of non-containerized cargo in Charleston and Georgetown climbed 18.4 perce