SC Ports' February Container Volume up 9%, Breakbulk Up 118%

Charleston, SC - Container volume in the Port of Charleston rose 9.2 percent in February compared to the same month last year, in results announced today at the regular meeting of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board of Directors.

Charleston handled 119,052 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, representing a 5.8 percent climb in container volume over the month of January, largely on the strength of loaded exports.

"We are experiencing a very balanced trade between import and export containers, which is a credit to the companies in South Carolina and across the Southeast that are competing well in the global marketplace," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA.

Additionally, Charleston was one of only two of the nation's top 10 container ports that experienced a rise in inbound cargo in February, according to trade intelligence company Zepol Corporation.

Volume for the fiscal year to date (July 2011 through February 2012) remained relatively flat, with a 0.9 percent increase over the same period last fiscal year.

At the same time, the SCPA's non-container business segment in Charleston and Georgetown showed double and triple-digit gains.

Breakbulk volume in Charleston, which totaled 62,680 tons, rose 41.9 percent last month over February 2011 while pier tons in the Port of Georgetown increased nearly fourfold to 74,083 pier tons. Total breakbulk volume last month at the two ports was more than double the volume handled February of last year.

With increased demand in the SCPA's non-container business, the SCPA Board authorized the agency to proceed with contract negotiations with Charleston Heavy Lift on the construction of a new, barge-mounted heavy lift crane. The new crane would be used exclusively in the Port of Charleston in handling oversized and overweight project cargo across the docks, and the SCPA would contribute up to $2.5 million to the project for dedicated access over the life of the crane.

The SCPA completed approximately $23 million in upgrades to Columbus Street Terminal to handle its non-container business, including vehicles such as BMWs made in South Carolina and heavy project cargo requiring on-dock rail.

Additionally, the Board approved a $525,000 contract for maintenance berth dredging at Veterans Terminal, a 110-acre non-container facility at the Port of Charleston located on the former Navy Base site.

About the South Carolina Ports Authority
The South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $58 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year. For more information, visit http://www.scspa.com.

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