Container volumes at the Port of Charleston grew 3 percent in July to 136,159 TEUs, the port's strongest July result since 2008 and a 20-percent increase from July 2011, the South Carolina Ports Authority announced this week, along with fiscal year revenue results.
The port authority achieved an operating income of $12.72 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, up $5.45 million from fiscal year 2012. The state agency said this week that its operating revenue for the period grew 7 percent to $130.95 million, aided by a 9-percent gain in container volume to 1.56 million TEU at the Port of Charleston and a 14-percent increase in non-containerized cargo at Charleston and the Port of Georgetown.
Through the first seven months of calendar year 2013, the Port of Charleston handled 925,075 TEUs, up 5.7 percent from January-July of 2012.
The Port of Charleston has begun to benefit from new service calls and shipping lines bringing in larger ships or more frequent services. Port officials say the increased activity will fully kick in during fiscal year 2014, which is expected to further increase cargo volumes.
“Given our aggressive capital investments over the next several years, it is essential to maintain a solid financial position and a steady stream of funds toward these important projects,” SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement.
The port authority is two years into its 10-year, $1.3-billion capital plan that includes new equipment for handling the largest container ships, upgrades to existing terminals, information systems, and new facilities like the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer.
Monday marked the arrival of the first rubber-tired gantry (RTG) crane components to the 100-acre upstate facility. The SCPA is relocating three RTGs from Charleston to Greer in order to stack grounded containers in the inland port's storage yard. The first cargo is expected to arrive at the terminal in mid-October.
The largest single area of spending in the SCPA's capital plan is for the Navy Base Terminal, currently under construction in North Charleston. The facility's first major fill project — the $46-million upland and wall fill contract — is slated for completion by spring of 2014. At build out, the terminal will boost container capacity in the Port of Charleston by 50 percent.
In July, the Port of Charleston handled 51,375 tons of breakbulk cargo, up almost 4 percent form the same month last year. As previously reported, steel exports and imports are a big part of the upswing. The Port of Georgetown handled 59,731 pier tons in non-containerized cargo during July, an increase of almost 70 percent from July 2012. Top commodities included cement, petroleum coke and steel. - Eric Kulisch