Supply Chain News / Economic Development / Ports

Strong Container Volume Growth at SC Ports

A total of 942,013 TEUs were handled from July to January, an increase from the 892,487 TEUs moved during the same period last fiscal year.

SC Ports Authority container volume rose nearly 7 percent in January 2014 compared to same month in 2013, with 129,562 20-foot equivalent units handled by the port in January 2014.

In fiscal year-to-date results announced at the SC Ports Authority (SCPA) Board meeting, container volume in Charleston is up 5.5 percent. A total of 942,013 TEUs were handled from July to January, an increase from the 892,487 TEUs moved during the same period last fiscal year.

Since 2010, the SCPA has captured nearly half of all container volume growth in the South Atlantic market through the addition of new customers and cargo from discretionary markets, inland-favorable freight and growth of bulk transload operations.

"Container volume in Charleston has grown consistently year over year since fiscal year 2010," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "We remain a top ten port, and through our efforts to deepen the harbor and prepare for big ships to call in greater frequency, we are poised to meet the future growth of the industry and remain a leader in our competitive region."

In addition to growth in the container business, Georgetown is up 12.6 percent fiscal year to date as a result of increased tonnages for bulk mill scale, a recyclable product for steel plants, and bulk cement for the construction industry. Georgetown remains more than 8 percent ahead of plan for the period.

Maintenance Projects

The Board voted to approve three terminal maintenance projects in Charleston. The overhead electrical network for refrigerated cargo at North Charleston Terminal will be replaced with an underground service, and the RTG container storage area will receive surface upgrades to increase storage capacity. Wharf substructure maintenance repairs for Columbus Street Terminal were also approved.

Air Quality

Carnival Corporation & plc, the parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines, will install exhaust-gas cleaning technology, or scrubbers, on 32 ships in its fleet including the Charleston-based Carnival Fantasy. The cutting-edge technology, which combines the removal of sulfur with a substantial reduction in particulate matter and black carbon, will be installed on the Fantasy in October 2015.

The Fantasy began burning low sulfur marine gas oil during port stays in Charleston in December 2013, although international law does not require reductions in sulfur content to 0.1 percent until 2015. The ship is in full compliance with the North American Emission Control Area ECA guidelines that were established in 2012. Carnival will continue using the low sulfur fuel until scrubber installation in accordance with their agreement with the EPA.

"The maritime industry, both cargo and cruise, works proactively on the forefront of emissions reductions globally and is acutely aware of the need to regulate these issues in a comprehensive and consistent manner," Newsome said. "The SCPA has spent more than $16 million in the last decade to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, and this investment in scrubber technology by Carnival enhances our efforts. The Fantasy is operating in a clean, environmentally conscious way both today and in the future."

"This is a significant accomplishment as well as an important milestone for our company," said Carnival Corporation & plc CEO Arnold Donald. "This is a breakthrough solution for cleaner air that will set a new course in environmental protection for years to come."

SCPA also announced plans to work through the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to install an investigatory air monitor at Union Pier to voluntarily evaluate levels of criteria pollutants in the ambient air.

The Carnival Fantasy accounted for 68 of the 88 total cruise calls on Charleston in 2013, and the ship is the only embark/debark cruise line operating out of the Port of Charleston.

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