“From a financial standpoint, South Carolina’s public port system is very healthy,” said David J. Posek, the SCSPA’s board chairman. “These strong numbers allow us to cover the costs of current operations along with the new container terminal in North Charleston.”
Further, Posek said that the SCSPA’s current fiscal position will enable it to cover the remaining state matching funds for the recently completed harbour deepening project, as well as any shortfall in funding for the Port Access Road serving the new Navy Base Terminal.
Work on the Harbor Deepening and Widening Project was completed in 2004, taking the inner harbour channels to a 45 ft depth at mean low water and the entrance channel to 47ft. Work on the new Navy Base Terminal is well underway. The U$550m Phase I is scheduled for completion in 2014 and will boost Charleston’s container capacity by 1.4m teu.
The Port of Charleston’s productivity remained at world-class levels for the year, with vessel production averaging 40.5 moves-per-crane per hour, the best in the country. Truck turn times averaged around 23 minutes.
Breakbulk cargo volumes at Charleston rose 23% to 660,096 tons, while the cruise business also grew, with passenger counts rising 35% to 131,124 and the ship count up 29% to 54 vessels. Container volumes totalled 1,694,504 teu, a 10% decline from the previous year’s total of 1,883,651, due to a weaker import market and stiff competition from subsidised ports along the East Coast.
In the meantime, the SCSPA has been selected as one of five US port organisations to participate in an 18-month environmental management programme, along with the Port of San Diego, Port of Long Beach, California United Terminals and the Georgia Ports Authority.
The Port Environmental Management System (EMS) Assistance Project is designed to help seaport authorities analyse and control their environmental impacts as well as develop and maintain responsible practices in their daily operations. This is the third round of the programme since it was established in 2005.
Initially, the SCSPA proposes to analyse fuel dispensing and usage at its five public marine terminals in the Port of Charleston. The SCSPA purchases about 1m gallons of fuel a year to power its on-terminal lifting equipment, and last autumn switched to using ultra-low sulphur diesel in its operations.
Earlier this summer, the SCSPA launched its Pledge for Growth, which encompasses all of the Port’s environmental and community programming. It is hiring an environmental affairs manager to ensure regulatory compliance and, in addition, has applied for grant funding through the EPA to retrofit trucks with new technology to reduce diesel air emissions and improve fuel efficiency.