By Matt Tomsic
Published March 19, 2013
The S.C. State Ports Authority earned $800,000 during the month of February, driving its year-to-date operating earnings to $8.3 million for fiscal year 2013.
Board members heard the ports authority’s latest financial results during its monthly board meeting Tuesday. Year-to-date revenues were $90.4 million, up 5% year-over-year but down 6% compared with planned revenues for fiscal year 2013. Operating earnings were up 20% year-over-year but down 31% compared with the ports authority’s plan.
Nearly 140 ships docked at the port’s facilities during February, and 1,208 ships have docked there throughout fiscal year 2013, an increase of 5% year-over-year and 1% compared with 2013’s plan.
The port has also handled 10% more pier containers year-over-year and 583% more bulk tons. Break-bulk tons are down by nearly 5%, though.
“All the lines are now making their plans for deployments,” said ports authority CEO Jim Newsome during the board meeting. “So this is the time of year where they redecorate the store.”
He also noted the port handled about 64,000 loaded containers during February, the most handled in a month since October 2008, a significant statistic, board member Pamela Lackey said.
“We’re going into the strong part of our year,” Newsome said. “Typically, March, April, May are the big volume months for us.”
The port will also see the results of some industry rearrangements in the upcoming weeks. One of the changes is Maersk’s decision to send its East Coast ships through the deeper Suez Canal instead of the Panama Canal. The port expects the first ship from that service to arrive in April.
“It’s just a view of things to come,” Newsome said. “When one does it, they all do it.”
Another development on the East Coast is the formation of the G6, an alliance of six ocean carriers. The alliance will also bring larger ships to the East Coast, and the first ship to call on Charleston is expected to be about 8,000 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs, a common industry term. The port expects that ship in May.
Those developments represent a change, Newsome said, and provide more evidence of the need for a deeper Charleston Harbor to handle larger ships 24 hours a day. Now, they can access the port on high tides.