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Port sees cargo growth, projects on horizon for 2018

Distribution & Logistics
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S.C. State Ports Authority officials expect continued growth in the Southeast port market in 2018 with the deployment of larger ships, expanded service to Asia and more cargo.

The growth in plastic transload operations and the launch of manufacturing operations such as Samsung’s new Newberry plant and Volvo Cars’ Berkeley County facility should boost the number of containers moving across S.C. port terminals.

Port officials expect to see larger ships calling on Charleston this year. (Photo/Provided)

“Global container trade growth was the strongest it has been since 2010, mirroring surprising strength in the global economy,” port CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement. “We expect to see continued strength, albeit slightly more modest, into 2018 with growth in the emerging-market economies as a key factor in sustaining this positive outlook.”

The port reported during its board meeting last week that it saw a record December with more than 103,000 pier containers — boxes of any size — handled, up 11.6% from the year prior.

The port handled nearly 183,000 TEUs — 20-foot equivalent containers — in December, up 11.2% from the previous year.

Thus far in fiscal 2018, which began in July, the port has handled 605,000 pier containers, up 4.3%, and nearly 1.2 million TEUs, an increase of 3.9%.

Break-bulk cargo — products that cannot fit into a container — also saw growth last year. In calendar year 2017, nearly 235,000 finished vehicles moved across the dock of the Columbus Street Terminal, for example.

Heading into 2018, the port plans to continue work on:

  • Construction of the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston; phase one is set to open in 2020.
  • Construction of an inland port in Dillon; the operation is set to open in April.
  • Construction of a new corporate headquarters building in Mount Pleasant; the office project is set to open in December.
  • Renovation and reinforcement of the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant; work should wrap up this spring.
  • Initial dredging for the deepening of Charleston Harbor; work will begin in February and completion is projected by 2020.

Fiscal year 2018 (July through December) port results:

Description
FY18 results to date
% change from ’17
Total TEUs
1.07 million
3.9%
Total pier containers
605,819
4.3%
Charleston break-bulk pier tons
353,822
-16.2%
Vehicles
102,075
-19.4%
Cruise passengers
117,547
5.3%
Ships docked
837
-7.2%
Greer Inland Port rail moves
57,128
5.7%
Operating revenues
$118.70 million
6.7%
Operating expenses
$97.68 million
10.3%
Operating earnings
$20.95 million
-4.9%

Source: S.C. State Ports Authority

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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