March 20, 2019

South Carolina Ports Authority logs record container volume for February

South Carolina Ports Authority logs record container volume for February

Port braces for dropping volumes from March to May, citing the impact of trade uncertainty.

By DC Velocity Staff

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), which operates the Port of Charleston and other facilities, today said it had logged the strongest February container volume in its history and notched nearly 12 percent fiscal year-over-year growth, even as it braced for uncertain trade conditions to pull the rug out from under that success.

SCPA moved 178,131 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEU) during the month of February, with 1.6 million TEUs handled since the fiscal year began in July. As measured by the total number of boxes handled, SCPA moved 100,794 pier containers last month for a total of 896,039 containers fiscal year to date, port officials said.

"A strong February contributed to the port's continued growth, with container volume nearly six percent ahead of our financial plan for the first eight months of our fiscal year," SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said in a release. "We anticipate volumes from March to May will be below plan due to the impact of trade uncertainty and a significant number of blanked sailings, but we ultimately expect to achieve our FY2019 plan of 1.3 million pier containers."

The port also said it is continuing to invest in several expansion projects to accommodate rising container volumes in recent months. On one front, its Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet received a $138 million allocation in President Trump's Fiscal Year 2020 Budget request announced last week. The project is now eligible to receive direct appropriations from Congress through the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, the port said.

In another project, construction on the Entrance Channel to 54 feet began in February 2018, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to award the next dredging contract for deepening the Lower Harbor to 52 feet this fall. "Receiving a significant allocation for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project in the President's Budget was great news for our port and state," Newsome said. "The depth advantage of 52 feet will add much-needed capability in the Southeast, the fastest growing region in the country."

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