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Keeping an Eye on Port Expansion

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

As each new generation of larger containerships comes to market, so does growing pressure on ports and terminals to accommodate their rising volumes quickly and effectively.

Ports around the globe have been busily improving their infrastructure to accommodate these ever-larger vessels, fulfill the changing needs of the industry, and maintain efficiency. Over the last year, Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in India, and Deltaport Terminal in Canada’s Vancouver Fraser Port all began work on large-scale expansion projects.

The United States has also seen numerous port expansion projects aimed at adapting to the new larger vessels. A recent example is the completion of the Turning Basin Expansion Project at the port of Wilmington in North Carolina. One of the main reasons for this project was to improve infrastructure by widening the turning basin and offering 2600 contiguous feet of container berth space to account for the established shipbuilding trend.

Additionally, the port of New Orleans recently acquired 1,100 acres to build a new terminal capable of handling more modern vessels and future growth. Georgia Ports are taking action as well, acquiring 145 contiguous acres for an expansion project in Savannah, which is enough land to accommodate an additional 1-million twenty-foot equivalent container units in annual capacity. Also, a vitally important ship channel dredging and berth widening project at the port of Houston has been approved for funding in a recent stimulus package.

“As our industry continues to shift toward larger and larger vessels, governments are realizing that when it comes to ports of call, size does matter,” said Anthony Fullbrook, president of OEC Group’s Northeast Region. “In order to accommodate coming generations of vessels, ports need to be able to efficiently facilitate their docking, unloading, and intermodal and road access. As a result, many ports around the world are expanding to accommodate ever increasing throughput.”

When completed, these expansion projects will increase efficiency and give shippers more options. Ports that are committed to planning for future growth by offering more berth space and enhanced transportation systems will be more desired and better positioned for the future. Clients know that their goods will be transported faster using modernized methods.

“Ports are the gateways to our global economy, and they need to grow,” said Mr. Fullbrook. “It is possible that terminals doing a better job expanding and modernizing could offer a significant advantage over the competition as preferred destinations. It is definitely something we will be keeping an eye on.”

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