Port Sets Back-to-Back Record Container Months in March and April

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More containers moved through the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal at the Port of New Orleans in March and April 2016 than in any two months in the Port’s history. According to figures released this week, 50,974 twenty-foot-equivalent units moved through the Terminal in April, besting the previous monthly record of 48,594 TEUs in March of 2016. The two-month total of 99,568 TEUs is up 6.1 percent, compared to same two months in 2015.

Surging container volumes come on the heels of higher overall cargo volumes in 2015. Strong Chemical exports together with higher metals imports helped push Calendar Year 2015 general cargo figures to new highs, according to figures released today by the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans.

Total general cargo worked at the Port’s public docks totaled 8.6 million tons, up nearly 3 percent compared to 2014’s total of 8.3 million tons. Total port-wide cargo, including midstream operations within the Port’s three-parish (county) jurisdiction, rose 8.1 percent to 33.5 million tons, compared to 31 million tons one year ago. In addition to growth in overall tonnage, the Port’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal also handled a calendar year record 525,485 twenty-foot-equivalent units in 2015, up more than 7 percent compared to the TEUs handled during the previous 12-month period.

“Continued growth in cargo figures is attributable to our efficient terminal operators, valued customers and the hard work of the entire Port community,” said Gary LaGrange, Port President and CEO. “All of that hard work is also paying off with international recognition from trusted transportation publications citing the Port’s productivity.”

Strong cargo figures led the Journal of Commerce to name the Port of New Orleans the “FastestGrowing Import and Export Port” in the United States.

The Port’s top export commodities realized robust tonnages, as chemical exports rose 7.1 percent to total 1.86 million tons and forest products totaled 435,056 tons, up 5.4 percent. On the inbound side, non-ferrous metals rose 44.35 percent to 499,287 tons – led by imported zinc at 220,265 tons. Natural rubber imports grew by 3.4 percent to total 364,265 tons and coffee rose by 3.8 percent to 261,802 tons. The imported steel market softened in 2015, but again realized strong levels at 3.27 million tons, or 7.6 percent lower than the previous year.

LaGrange said recent Port and terminal operator investments could lead to further growth in the coming year.

“Nearly $40 million in new investments to increase efficiencies and expand container handling capabilities have been made in the last year at our Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal,” LaGrange said. “Our challenge now is to keep pace and execute our plan for smart growth in the future.”

Among the investments is a $7.9 million refrigerated container racking system, jointly financed by New Orleans Terminal LLC and the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans. The state-of-the-art racking system has the ability to store more than 600 refrigerated containers at one time. New Orleans Terminal also assembled two new rubber-tire gantry cranes (RTGs) to add to their container marshalling yard in an effort to increase container handling and turn times. The project is a more than $4.5 million private investment. Ports America invested $2.2 million in new technology at the gate and within the terminal aimed at improving efficiency and turn times for truck drivers.

These projects are complimented by the new $25 million Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal that began operations in March. The 12-acre terminal is a modern and efficient intermodal container transfer terminal that facilitates the movement of marine and rail cargo, while enhancing safety and reducing the carbon footprint of the regional and national transportation systems.

The Port’s cargo growth compliments the second consecutive year of cruise operations topping the 1-million-passenger mark. Cruise embarkations and disembarkations totaled 1,023,700 in 2015 and larger and newer cruise ships positioned in New Orleans in 2016 look to attract additional passengers this year.

“Combined with a growing industrial portfolio, the Port of New Orleans is hitting on all cylinders,” LaGrange added. “But we must stay focused and continue to strive to expand services to our customers and to efficiently handle future cargo demands, all while growing high-quality maritime jobs for Louisiana.”