June 20, 2018

South Carolina projects 5 percent port box growth for fiscal 2019

Revenues projected to rise 12.4 percent from current fiscal year.

By DC Velocity Staff

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), which operates the Port of Charleston and the inland ports of Greer and Dillon, said today it adopted a 2019 fiscal year financial plan that assumes five percent "pier container" growth, $280.8 million in operating revenues, $42.9 million in operating earnings, and capital expenditures of $277.6 million. 

The plan projected pier container volume, defined as boxes handled, of 1.305 million during FY2019, which starts July 1. This would represent a 5 percent increase from the 1.24 million pier containers that SCPA expects to handle in the current fiscal year which ends June 30. Planned operating revenues of nearly $281 million for FY2019 would be a 12.4 percent increase from the $249.9 million in projected revenues for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. 

The port authority said it expects strong FY 2019 volumes at both inland rail facilities. A 13 percent increase in rail moves, or 136,200 lifts next fiscal year, is projected for Port Greer, located in Greer, S.C. During the first full fiscal year of operations at Port Dillon, located in Dillon, S.C., the facility is expected to handle approximately 40,000 rail moves. 

The board said it approved the largest capital plan in SCPA's history for projects supporting terminal modernization, capacity increases and intermodal volume growth. The largest capital expenditure in FY2019 is $117.1 million for improvements to the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which links the terminal with I-26.

"The capital expenditure plan approved by our Board today reflects the Port's commitment to serving our customers with modern terminals and expanded capacity, projects that will be complemented by the deepening of our harbor to 52 feet," said Jim Newsome, SCPA's president and CEO, in a statement.

Work began in March to dredge the harbor to lower its entrance channel to 52 feet from 45 feet, thus making it more accommodative for larger vessels. Newsome has said the dredging should be completed by August 2020. The entire project will take 3 to 6 years to complete

SCPA recently reported its strongest May ever for container volume. With 197,437 twenty foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) moved during the month, May volumes were 8.2 percent higher than the same month in 2017. Fiscal year to date, SCPA's container volumes are 2.3 percent higher than the same period last year with nearly 2 million TEUs handled since July. 

In the non-containerized cargo business segment, the Port of Charleston handled 68,687 pier tons last month. Since the fiscal year began, Charleston has handled 677,516 tons of breakbulk cargo. Port Greer handled 10,836 rail moves in May, for a total of 107,773 moves fiscal year to date.

Charleston is one of four state-owned and operated ports in the U.S. The others are Savannah, Houston and Norfolk/Hampton Roads, Va.

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