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Port anticipates busy spring at Charleston terminals

Distribution & Logistics
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S.C. Ports Authority officials said Wednesday they expect to see cargo volumes increase at the Port of Charleston this spring.

The port handled 1.4 million TEUs — 20-foot equivalent container units — since July, up 1.1% from the same period a year prior. In February, the port handled more than 168,000 TEUs, down 4.2% from a year ago.

The port handled 795,951 pier containers — boxes of any size — since July, up 1.5% from the same period the previous year. The port moved 95,280 pier containers in February, down 3% from the year prior.

SCPA officials said that winter months often have less cargo movement but that they expect volumes to pick up.

“The terminals are very busy now,” Port CEO Jim Newsome said during the board meeting.

This month, the port has seen the arrival of two more 155-foot-tall cranes at the Wando Welch Terminal and the start of dredging to deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, up from its current 45-foot depth.

Port executives, business leaders, elected officials and Gov. Henry McMaster gathered earlier this month to commemorate the start of the long-awaited project and to reiterate the need for more federal funding to complete the project, which will cost more than $500 million. The state set aside $300 million in 2012.

“We really are accomplishing a lot of this in the nick of time,” said Newsome, noting the anticipated deployment of larger ships to the port this year.

Inland Port Greer continues to see record volumes, handling 10,440 rail moves in February.

The SCPA’s second inland port, Inland Port Dillon, opens for business next month.

Newsome said tighter restrictions on truck drivers’ hours and the new trend of drivers electronically logging their hours could push more customers to use the inland port, choosing short-haul drives over long-haul.

Fiscal year 2018 to date (July through February)

Description

FY18 results to date

% change from ’17

Total TEUs

1.41 million

1.1%

Total pier containers

795,951

1.5%

Charleston break-bulk pier tons

476,219

-13.8%

Vehicles

140,275

-14.7%

Cruise passengers

149,740

6.5%

Ships docked

1,109

-5.9%

Inland Port Greer rail moves

76,748

4.8%

Operating revenues

$158.8 million

5.8%

Operating expenses

$131.9 million

10.4%

Operating earnings

$26.9 million

-12%

Source: S.C. Ports Authority

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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