LaGrange Highlights Back-to-Back Record Container Volumes in Annual State of the Port Address
The Port of New Orleans topped a half million TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) handled at its Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal for the second year in a row, setting another alltime high. For fiscal year 2016, the Port recorded 532,427 TEUs, up from 528,329 in fiscal year 2015. Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange made the announcement during the 30th Annual State of the Port Address today hosted by the International Freight Forwarders & Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans.
“We continue to realize growth in our container market and expect that demand to surge in the coming years as about $75 billion could be invested in large-scale industrial development in Louisiana over the next decade,” LaGrange said. “Those investments create chemical exports - namely resins and PVC - that will fuel volumes for years to come.”
In addition, LaGrange noted nearly $40 million was invested last year to increase efficiencies and capacity at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal and the Port is preparing to invest more than $25 million to expand container capacity to nearly 1 million TEUs by adding 28 acres of heavy-duty paving at the terminal’s Milan Upland marshalling yard in the coming years.
“The Port’s $25 million Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal opened in March, a nearly $8 million refrigerated container racking system is now in place and two new rubber-tire container cranes were added by New Orleans Terminal,” LaGrange said. “All of these additions, combined with plans for expanding container storage capacity will position the Port to handle our anticipated growth in the short-term.”
Port officials and consultants are currently engaging stakeholders, tenants and customers while conducting a new Master Plan, which will be completed in 2017.
“The process is exciting and we are looking forward to unveiling our long-term goals and priorities, while focusing on developing the Port’s strengths and identifying new opportunities,” LaGrange said.
Current cargo figures illustrate the chemical sector’s growth. Through the first five months of 2016, the Port realized gains in chemical exports of 15.62 percent, the highest performing commodity portwide. In addition, poultry exports rose 41 percent as major destination countries relax restrictions on U.S.-produced poultry in 2016. On the inbound side, the Port realized a more than 12 percent increase in coffee and non-ferrous metals traded on the London Metals Exchange – namely aluminum and lead. One of the Port’s top commodities - imported steel – has softened since recording 14-year highs just two years ago, as steel imports slipped more than 30 percent compared to last year.
“Imported steel is a direct reflection of global economic trends and tonnage is down about the same at ports throughout the nation,” LaGrange said. “The good news is our diverse cargo portfolio allows for growth in other commodities, while some are impacted by factors beyond our control.”
Supporting cargo operations is a growing number of tenants occupying industrial leases along the Port’s Inner Harbor Navigational Canal. These tenants, which collectively resulted in an all-time industrial real estate revenue total of $6.5 million in fiscal year 2016, provide critical value-added services for cargo destined for the Port’s deep-water terminals.
For example, TCI’s expansion of its “mega-plastics district” will begin operation in the first quarter of 2017 – packaging dry chemical cargo in containers for export. Braid Logistics signed a new lease to package liquids into flexi-tanks for container export and Miller Transport recently developed a new tank truck and ISO tank depot. On the break-bulk side, Kearney Companies is leasing and investing in former fabrication warehouses with the goal of serving the growing metals market.
Cruising from New Orleans continues to grow in popularity, as well, and cruise lines are investing in newer and larger ships. Carnival Cruise Lines repositioned the Carnival Triumph to the Port’s Erato Street Cruise Terminal in April, a 34 percent increase in Carnival’s year-round four- and five-day itineraries. Norwegian Cruise Lines will replace the Norwegian Dawn with the newer and larger Norwegian Pearl on Nov. 5, 2017.
“The Port is on target to top 1 million passengers for the third straight year,” LaGrange said. “Cruise lines are investing in bigger and better ships in New Orleans and we’re attracting more and more unique cruise ship calls to New Orleans as a destination city on a cruise itinerary.”
A robust inland riverboat fleet and new direct international flights to Panama, Germany and the United Kingdom via Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will make it easier for international travelers to visit and cruise from New Orleans, LaGrange added.
The Port is also growing in an environmentally responsible manner, as its Green Marine Certification is paying dividends. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Port’s Environmental Services Department a $727,000 Clean Diesel grant to fund the Port’s Clean Truck Replacement Incentive Program to assist short-haul and drayage truck owners working within the Port to purchase newer more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly models.
“I want to commend the strides our environmental department has made in pursuing grant funding and engaging terminal operators and tenants to assist them in achieving their environmental goals,” LaGrange said. “We will continue to pursue grant funding to support our stakeholders and their efforts to reduce emissions and improve air quality throughout the region.”
The Port’s success stories must be broadly communicated and LaGrange said the Port will continue its aggressive outreach to the community, elected officials and stakeholders.
“Our connections run deep in in the communities we serve, in the connectivity we offer our customers, and our market area as a whole,” LaGrange added. “Our Board has made it a priority to communicate that message through the airwaves, publications, partnerships and outreach activities. This effort is critically important today as we usher in a new Congress and Administration and work together with our state and local partners to have the ability to continue to expand, grow volumes, create jobs and meet our collective goals.”