Year of Momentum at South Carolina Ports

August 14, 2007

Charleston, SC – August 14, 2007 – The S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) has closed its latest fiscal year, capping off a period of momentum and key accomplishments that included the groundbreaking for a new container terminal, significant new equipment deliveries and increased productivity.

“This has been a year of great strides toward port expansion,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the SCSPA. “South Carolina’s ports are positioned for long-term growth and success.”

Specifically, Groseclose cited the following accomplishments during the fiscal year 2007 that ended June 30:

  • – Obtained permits and broke ground on a new terminal
    – Realized $167 million in state funding for Port Access Road
    – Increased capacity with the delivery of $64 million in new equipment
    – Improved crane productivity and improved trucker turn times
    – Added new ocean carrier services
    – Awarded $12.4 million in Port Security Grant funding

During the year, state and federal permits were issued for the new three-berth, 280-acre container terminal on the former Charleston Navy Base.  More than a hundred business and political leaders from across the state came together for a groundbreaking on the site on May 7. Work is now underway to ready the site for consolidation and construction.  During the recent legislative session, the South Carolina General Assembly appropriated an additional $167 million toward construction of the Port Access Road.

New equipment totaling $64 million was delivered and installed at the SCSPA’s terminals during the year, including four new super post-Panamax container cranes and 16 rubber-tired gantry cranes to improve space utilization and service to truckers.

Charleston’s crane productivity in FY07 rose 5%, averaging 40.53 moves per hour per crane for the entire year, up from 38.76 moves per hour in fiscal 2006. Average trucker turn times through the SCSPA’s common user gates dropped to just 20.76 minutes, a ten percent improvement over 22.99 minutes in FY06.

“The Port of Charleston’s customers are enjoying record productivity and no congestion issues,” said Groseclose.  “Although we’re in a period of softening demand, with new equipment and sound management practices in place, Charleston’s prepared for growth.”

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, container volumes at the Port of Charleston totaled 1,883,651 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), off 4.8% from last year.

The decline was driven primarily by industry mergers, declines in the housing industry and broad-based weakness across all trade lanes in the South Atlantic.  For example, in the October to December period, total container volume from Virginia to Miami fell 3% from the previous year.  From January to March, container volume in the South Atlantic was down 1% from the same three months last year.

For the year, the SCSPA’s operating revenues totaled $153.44 million, while operating expenses were $103.56 million.  This drove operating earnings for the year to $49.88 million, which translates to a 32.5% operating margin.

“The Ports Authority is certainly on solid financial footing as we move forward with major capital investments and the new terminal at the former Navy Base,” said Groseclose.

In other port capacity news, the governors of Georgia and South Carolina announced an effort to explore cooperative development of a marine terminal in Jasper County on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.  In addition, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation placing primary responsibility for the site with the SCSPA and setting benchmarks for the development.

Throughout the year, the SCSPA broke ground in other ways as well. In the Corps’ Final Environmental Impact Statement issued in December, the SCSPA included what is likely the largest mitigation plan in South Carolina’s history. The $10-million plan not only includes funding for environmental programs, but it also includes community mitigation programs, a first for any port-related project.

The SCSPA also pledged to proactively study ways to cut air emissions at the port by signing a voluntary agreement with the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. As a result, the SCSPA began the first air emissions inventory in the south and should complete this work next year.

At the dock, several new carrier services began this year, enhancing Charleston’s connections to Asia, North Europe, India, the Mediterranean and South America.

Also, the Department of Homeland Security awarded the SCSPA $12.4 million in Port Security Grants in Rounds 6 and 7, announced in September and May respectively. Only four port areas in the nation (Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Seattle) have received more grant funding since the inception of the program in 2002.

For more information:

Byron D. Miller

Director, Public Relations

S.C. State Ports Authority

(843) 577-8197

[email protected]