1 A Look at Container Ports Available to North Carolina Exporters and Importers January 3, 2011 Prepared for Save the Cape, Inc. Risingwater Associates Southport, North Carolina Old Saybrook, Connecticut
3 Contents Frontispiece Summary...1 Introduction...2 Hampton Roads...5 Terminals and Capacities...5 Channel...7 Highways...8 Railroads...8 Barge Market Area Container Traffic and Trends Financial Performance Expansion Plans Charleston Harbor Terminals and Capacities Channel Highways Railroads Market Area Container Traffic and Trends Financial Performance Expansion Plans Savannah River Terminal and Capacity Channel Highways Railroads Market Area Container Traffic and Trends Financial Performance Expansion Plans Wilmington Terminal and Capacity Channel Highways Railroad Market Area... 28
4 Container Traffic and Trends Financial Performance Expansion Plans The Ports Compared Capacity and Location Capacity and Expansion Capacity Exhaustion Channel Depth Market Areas Cost to Serve Markets The Ports Compared Operating Results Regional Container Traffic Container Traffic in North Carolina The Effects of Size Rates Financial Results The Demand for Deep Water Conclusions Sources... 51
5 A Look at Container Ports Available to North Carolina Exporters and Importers Summary Find a need and fill it Henry J. Kaiser (Also attributed to Ruth Stafford Peale) The Governor has created a Logistics Task Force to make recommendations for development of an integrated logistics plan for North Carolina. The first step is a proper definition of the problem an inventory and evaluation of existing transportation assets, including ports, airports, highways, railroads, and major distribution centers and business and industrial parks. Any review of ports available to North Carolina businesses must look outside of the State as well as in. Shippers and importers are indifferent to state borders. Indeed, four-fifths of North Carolina s international commerce moves through ports in other States. The market determines which ports are closest, offer the lowest costs, and provides the most advantageous service. State loyalty is reserved to the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack. The current inquiry into ports available to North Carolina businesses must also consider the plan of the North Carolina State Ports Authority for a massive new marine container terminal. The new port, to be located on the Cape Fear River downstream from the State Port at Wilmington, has been conceived to compete on even terms with the largest ports in the East. This report examines the need for container terminal facilities, to provide a context for consideration of that project or any other to serve North Carolina. We look at container terminals in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, as well as the State Port at Wilmington. We look at regional port capacity, relative to anticipated need. We look at land-side infrastructure roads and rail. Then we look at results. What does the market say? Where does the market choose to send its exports and obtain its imports? What container port facilities would North Carolina businesses need in the coming decades? Where should they be? We find that North Carolina is, and will be, well-served by the small container terminal at Wilmington and the larger terminals in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. All have substantial excess capacity, and with expansion projects underway or in advanced stages of planning, will have adequate capacity for the foreseeable future. These ports have overlapping service areas that cover the State of North Carolina and provide a competitive environment. Risingwater Associates Save the Cape, Inc.
6 Introduction By Executive Order Number 32 on December 8, 2009, Governor Perdue established the Governor s Logistics Task Force to make recommendations to create an integrated logistics plan for North Carolina. The mandate is very broad, and includes a thorough inventory and evaluation of existing public and private transportation and commerce assets, including ports, airports, highways, railroads, major distribution centers, and business and industrial parks, and then to project future needs and make recommendations to create an integrated logistics plan for North Carolina. The North Carolina State Ports Authority operates two ports: the Port of Wilmington, with facilities for bulk and break-bulk cargoes and containerized freight, and the Port of Morehead City, with facilities for bulk and break-bulk cargoes but without special cranes and other equipment for containerized freight. The State Ports Authority has also purchased, for $30 million, a 600-acre undeveloped site on a tributary of the Cape Fear River near Southport about 20 miles downstream from the Port of Wilmington, and has invested $6 million in preliminary engineering for a new container terminal. The proposed terminal, to be called the North Carolina International Terminal, would be larger than any on the east coast of the United States except the combined terminals at Port Elizabeth and Port Newark, New Jersey. Planned capacity is 3,000,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per year. The project would include dredging a channel sufficient for deep-draft container ships of the size able to pass through the Panama Canal only after larger locks and other improvements are completed sometime after Movements of imports and exports through ports disregard state boundaries. North Carolina is served by several ports in other states, which are larger and busier than the ports in North Carolina, due to proximity to large markets. Four ports at Hampton Roads in Virginia, three ports in Charleston Harbor, and a large container terminal on the Savannah River above Savannah serve North Carolina businesses. These out-of-state ports are closer by road to many areas of North Carolina in which industry is concentrated than are the ports operated by the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The presence of these ports creates a competitive environment which provides a range of shipping opportunities. North Carolina businesses can make a shipping decision considering availability of service, distance, cost, time, and scheduling convenience. Risingwater Associates 2 Save the Cape, Inc.
7 These charts show the ports used for North Carolina imports and exports of containerized freight: Ports in Virginia and South Carolina each handle more of North Carolina s container movements than North Carolina s own port at Wilmington. This is what the market chooses, in an environment of many choices. Thus an inventory of facilities available for North Carolina imports and exports must of necessity include the ports in neighboring states the capacity, the land-side infrastructure, the adequacy of those facilities today and in the future. The issue is complicated by the impending expansion of the Panama Canal, the route of choice for trade with eastern Asian ports. The locks now in use are about 40 feet deep and 110 feet wide. The maximum size container ship (called Panamax ) able to transit the canal can carry slightly more than 4000 TEU. All container terminals on the East Coast (except Richmond) have channels maintained at 42-foot depth, sufficient for such vessels. However, a third set of locks parallel to the existing locks at the Panama Canal, now under construction, will be 50 feet deep and 180 feet wide, and much larger container ships (called post- Panamax or new Panamax ) would be able to use the canal to reach US East Coast ports from Asia. But access may be limited by channel depth. Of ports in the Southeast, only Hampton Roads in Virginia is 50 feet deep; others have depths ranging from 42 to 45 feet. When the additional dimension of time is considered, plans now in progress for increased channel depths must be taken into account in an inventory of ports serving North Carolina. Risingwater Associates 3 Save the Cape, Inc.
8 Development of a logistics plan for North Carolina is like any other problem, mathematical or scientific or economic: it must be addressed first by a comprehensive statement of the problem. Often, such a statement suggests the solution, and it would certainly suggest a range of alternatives for investigation. This report attempts to provide an inventory, to define the problem, if indeed there is one. We concentrate on containerized freight, the largest and fastest-growing segment of the shipping spectrum and the segment getting the most attention from various state port authorities in planning for growth. We examine the characteristics of the marine container terminals in North Carolina and neighboring states the capacity, the infrastructure connections, the market, the ability to accommodate growth. This should define the need, if any, for additional container terminal capacity to serve North Carolina importers and exporters. Risingwater Associates 4 Save the Cape, Inc.
9 Hampton Roads Terminals and Capacities The Virginia Port Authority owns and operates the Norfolk International Terminal, the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, and the Newport News Marine Terminal, all at Hampton Roads near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. All have container terminals, as well as facilities for bulk and breakbulk cargoes. The operating arm of the Virginia Port Authority is Virginia International Terminals, Inc. In July 2010, the Virginia Port Authority took over operation of the AP Moller terminal at Portsmouth, a privately-owned, highly-automated container terminal opened in late This is pursuant to a lease for a term of 20 years. According to the VPA master plan, container operations at Newport News will be terminated in favor of bulk and breakbulk cargoes. Container operations will be concentrated at Norfolk and the two terminals at Portsmouth. The Virginia Port Authority is also moving forward with plans for another very large container terminal at Craney Island, which has been created from dredging spoil. The VPA operates an inland container terminal at Front Royal in northern Virginia. Containers are moved to that facility by rail for subsequent distribution to inland points. The annual capacity of the marine container terminals currently operated by the Virginia Port Authority has been estimated to be about three million TEU by Moffatt & Nichol, the Port Authority s planning consultant. That capacity has never been tested. The highest annual throughput of 2.1 million TEU occurred in Risingwater Associates 5 Save the Cape, Inc.
10 Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) The Norfolk International Terminal is the Port of Virginia's largest terminal, with 648 acres. The terminal has five berths and 14 container cranes with a reach of 245 feet, able to service ships loaded 27 containers wide. These facilities provide a capacity of about two million TEU annually. The terminal has direct rail access through the Commonwealth Railway Project. Interstate 564 connects the terminal to I64. APM Terminal The APM Terminal, on the Elizabeth River at Portsmouth, is operated by Virginia International Terminals under a 20-year lease commencing in July The 576-acre terminal is regarded the most technologically advanced marine cargo facility in the Americas. The terminal has 4,000 linear feet of berth, and cranes and other facilities to handle 1.4 million TEU annually. The space will permit expansion to approximately 2.5 million TEU. On-site rail links to Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation. Route 164, the Western Freeway, connects to Interstate 664, thence to I64. A project is underway to move the railroad into the median of that freeway. APM Terminal at Portsmouth Risingwater Associates 6 Save the Cape, Inc.
11 Portsmouth Marine Terminal The Portsmouth Marine Terminal is on the Elizabeth River, slightly south of the terminal at Norfolk. The terminal occupies 219 acres and has 3,540 feet of wharf with three berths and six cranes for container and break-bulk cargo. Moffatt & Nichol has estimated the annual capacity of the terminal at just under one million TEU. The terminal has direct access to both CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, and will soon connect to the Commonwealth Railway. Route 164, the Western Freeway, connects the terminal to Interstate 664. Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT) The Newport News Marine Terminal, at 140 acres, is the smallest terminal in the Hampton Roads area and is used primarily for break-bulk cargoes. It does have container facilities in its 3500 feet of pier space, but that is planned to be terminated. CSX Transportation, Inc., provides direct rail service on the facility, and cargo can be moved directly from ship to rail. Interstate 664 connects the terminal directly to I64. Channel These are the depths at the various container wharfs in the most recent survey; APM Portsmouth 50 feet Norfolk International Terminal north 48 Norfolk International Terminal south 49 Portsmouth Marine Terminal 43 Newport News Marine Terminal 40 The channel to the sea is maintained at 50-foot depth. The Virginia Port Authority has authority to dredge the channel to 55 feet. Risingwater Associates 7 Save the Cape, Inc.
12 Highways Sixty-six percent of cargo at the ports operated by the Virginia Port Authority moved to inland destinations or from inland origins by truck in All of the terminals have Interstate connections to I64, which connects to I95 at Richmond. North Carolina destinations would be reached by US 58, connecting to I95 at Emporia, Virginia, and continuing west to intersect I85 for western North Carolina points. US 58 is a four-lane divided highway, with limited access in some stretches. Railroads In 2009, 30% of the cargo moving through the ports operated by the Virginia Port Authority arrived from inland origins or departed to inland destinations by rail. Both terminals at Portsmouth and the terminal at Norfolk have connections to the lines of Norfolk Southern Railway Company and CSX Transportation, Inc., the two major railroads in the East. The terminal at Newport News is served by CSX Transportation. The primary rail connection for the ports at Hampton Roads has traditionally been Norfolk Southern Railway Company, whose lifeblood has long been coal movements from West Virginia over the routes of the Norfolk & Western to its docks at Norfolk for export. Since the merger with the Southern Railway and acquisition of the lines of the Pennsylvania Risingwater Associates 8 Save the Cape, Inc.
13 Railroad from Conrail, Norfolk Southern has developed an extensive network for intermodal container movements, and most of that has clearances for double-stack container trains. The map below shows the core intermodal network of Norfolk Southern, passing through Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina. Connections are provided to the container terminals at Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah. In mid-2010, Norfolk Southern, with the assistance of the Commonwealth of Virginia and other states, opened its Heartland Corridor to provide double-stack intermodal service to the upper midwest and Chicago over its route through the Appalachians. Risingwater Associates 9 Save the Cape, Inc.
14 This map shows the Norfolk Southern Heartland Corridor. Norfolk Southern is currently running one train a day from Hampton Roads over this route. Substantial capacity for expansion of that service remains. Risingwater Associates 10 Save the Cape, Inc.
15 CSX Transportation, Inc., the other large railroad in the East, connects to all of the terminals at Hampton Roads. CSXT also has a project underway to increase clearances on its routes for doublestack container trains, called the National Gateway. This map shows the CSXT double-stack routes with its National Gateway. CSXT serves all of the container terminals in the Southeast, including Wilmington. Barge The remaining 4% of the inland movements through the ports at Hampton Roads are by barge, primarily to and from Richmond and Baltimore. Market Area In connection with the current study for deepening the channel in the Savannah River to the container terminal at Garden City above Savannah, Gulf Engineering & Consultants, Inc., prepared a Multiport Analysis for the Savannah District of the US Army Corps of Engineers. The analysis provides estimates of the transportation costs of containers from the container ports in the Southeast to major points in the market area for those ports, from the coast inland through the Midwest as far as Chicago. By comparison of those costs, the consulting firm was able to show the areas most efficiently served by each of the ports in the Southeast. Risingwater Associates 11 Save the Cape, Inc.
16 For the container terminals in the Hampton Roads area, this map shows in light green the area for which those terminals provide the lowest transportation cost, and also, in darker green, the area in which the terminals at Hampton Roads provide a transportation cost no more than $50 per TEU more than the lowest cost port. This defines the hinterland market of Hampton Roads as the upper Midwest, although those cities are also served by the container terminals at Port Elizabeth and Port Newark, New Jersey, and the terminals at Baltimore, Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia provide some competition. The terminals at Hampton Roads also provide competition for ports farther south, such as Charleston. Risingwater Associates 12 Save the Cape, Inc.
17 Container Traffic and Trends This chart shows the container movements through Hampton Roads for the period The Virginia Ports Authority reports that container movements have resumed upward growth in Financial Performance The annual report for fiscal year 2010 shows these results: FY 2010 FY 2009 Operating Revenues $51,900,000 $53,200,000 Operating Expenses 72,300,000 66,900,000 Operating Income (Loss) (20,400,000) (13,700,000) Non-Operating Income (25,100,000) (32,900,000) Port Fund Allocation 32,800,000 32,700,000 Capital Contribution 7,000,000 6,200,000 Change in Net Assets (12,000,000) (7,700,000) The Port Fund Allocation represents amounts received from the Commonwealth of Virginia through the Transportation Trust Fund, a tax on motor vehicle fuel and sales taxes. The Authority receives 4.2% of such funds. This is a substantial amount, $33 million annually, and represents a significant portion of revenues of the Port Authority. To the extent that the ports provide service to other states, Virginia taxpayers (and visitors buying motor fuel) are subsidizing that service. As in the case of other ports, maintenance dredging is done by the US Army Corps of Engineers. These are the estimated costs (by calendar year): $13,946,000 $15,179,000 $13,104,000 $14,591,000 $12,088,000 The figures for 2011 and 2010 are budget. The remaining years are estimates. All figures are from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Risingwater Associates 13 Save the Cape, Inc.
18 Not all of the dredging costs are paid by the Federal government. For depths below 45 feet (all except the channel in the James River), the Commonwealth of Virginia must pay half. The operating results for the Virginia Ports Authority are not solely attributable to container operations. The ports move substantial quantities of bulk and breakbulk cargoes. Results for the container operations are not separately reported. And all of the dredging costs cannot be attributed to the facilities of the Virginia Ports Authority. Hampton Roads has substantial activity by the US Navy, and Norfolk Southern Railway has a large terminal for coal exports. Expansion Plans The APM terminal at Portsmouth was designed for an annual capacity of 2.5 million TEU per year, to be achieved in two phases. The first phase was completed for the opening in 2007; capacity has been variously reported between one and 1.4 million TEU. The second phase has not been scheduled. The Virginia Ports Authority is proceeding with plans to construct a new, very large container terminal on an eastern expansion of Craney Island, an island at the mouth of the Elizabeth River created from dredging spoil. About 580 acres would be made available for the terminal. Capacity at full build out would be 2.5 million TEU annually. This facility would share rail and highway connections with the APM terminal. With improvements planned for the terminals at Norfolk and Portsmouth, these two projects would bring the aggregate capacity of the container terminals at Hampton Roads to about 8.6 million TEU annually. This is an artist s rendering of the Craney Island terminal. Risingwater Associates 14 Save the Cape, Inc.
19 Charleston Harbor Terminals and Capacities The South Carolina State Ports Authority operates three container terminals in the Charleston Harbor: North Charleston on the Cooper River, Columbus Street in Charleston, also on the Cooper River, and Wando Welch on the Wando River in Mount Pleasant. The aggregate annual container- handling capacity of these facilities is approximately 2.6 million TEU. An additional 1.3 million TEU will be available on completion of a new terminal on the site of a former US Navy base on the Cooper River, planned for 2016 (shown in red). Risingwater Associates 15 Save the Cape, Inc.
20 Wando Welch The largest container terminal in the harbor is the Wando Welch Terminal at Mount Pleasant, on the east side of the Wando River. Approximately 242 acres are available for container storage. Wando Welch does not have on-site rail service. The terminal is about a mile from Interstate 526; containers can be moved to their destination by truck, or taken to the intermodal rail facilities at North Charleston. North Charleston The smaller container terminal at North Charleston has on-site rail facilities leading to the Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation intermodal facilities. Interstate 526, which connects to I26, is a short distance from the terminal. Columbus Street The Columbus Street terminal in Charleston is a combination breakbulk and container terminal. It has a rail yard on site, and tracks at dockside. Interstate 26 is nearby. Channel The entrance channel at Charleston Harbor has a depth of 47 feet, and 45 feet is available in the harbor and at the berths of all the terminals. The lower Cooper River bridge, between Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, has a clearance of 186 feet, which is regarded as sufficient. The upper Cooper River bridge has a clearance of 150 feet, which may restrict some vessels from reaching the terminal at North Charleston. Container ships of up to 8000 TEU have called at Charleston. Risingwater Associates 16 Save the Cape, Inc.
21 Highways Interstate 26 provides a connection to Interstate 77 to Charlotte, North Carolina, and to I95 to Fayetteville and I40 to Raleigh. Charlotte is 209 miles from Charleston; travel time is about three and a quarter hours. This is less than the distance and time from Charlotte to the Port of Wilmington. Railroads Charleston is served by both Norfolk Southern Railway Company and CSX Transportation, Inc. The North Charleston terminal and the Columbus Street terminal have rail on the terminal sites; containers to or from the Wando Welch terminal must be carried by truck to the intermodal terminals in North Charleston. Maps showing rail routes for double-stack container trains appear in the section on Hampton Roads, above. Market Area Risingwater Associates 17 Save the Cape, Inc.
22 This map, prepared by Gulf Engineering & Consultants, Inc., for the Savannah District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, shows the areas (light green) for which the container terminals at Charleston Harbor provide the lowest cost path for imports and exports, and the area (dark green) for which those terminals provide a transportation cost no more than $50 per TEU more than the lowest cost port. The area in which Charleston offers the lowest cost is rather narrow. The terminals in the Charleston Harbor are obliged to compete with Savannah to the south and Hampton Roads (and to some extent, Wilmington) to the north for additional traffic. Risingwater Associates 18 Save the Cape, Inc.
23 Container Traffic and Trends This chart shows the container movements through the three container terminals at Charleston Harbor for the period The reduction in container traffic began sooner and has been more severe than at other ports. Financial Performance The South Carolina State Ports Authority operates the much smaller port at Georgetown and the facility at Port Royal. However, those operations are insignificant relative to the operations at Charleston. The annual report of the State Ports Authority for fiscal year 2010 shows these results: FY 2010 FY 2009 FY 2008 Operating Revenues $111,744,000 $136,201,000 $165,092,000 Operating Expenses 103,372, ,517, ,399,000 Operating Income 8,372,000 25,684,000 54,693,000 Non-Operating Income 4,711, , ,000 Contributions to State and County 8,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 Capital Contribution (Land) 16,000 23,550,000 Capital Grants (Federal) 2,677,000 3,459, ,000 Increase in Net Assets 7,760,000 28,868,000 76,986,000 The South Carolina State Ports Authority has been consistently profitable, even during the recent downturn in container traffic, and has been able to make contributions to the State of South Carolina and Berkeley County for the Cooper River bridge and interchange. As in the case of other ports, maintenance dredging is done by the US Army Corps of Engineers. These are the estimated costs (by calendar year): $13,065,000 $12,970,000 $13,031,000 $11,218,000 $ 8,605,000 The figures for 2011 and 2010 are budget. The remaining years are estimates. All figures are from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Risingwater Associates 19 Save the Cape, Inc.
24 The operating results for the South Carolina State Ports Authority and the dredging costs are not solely attributable to container operations. The ports move substantial quantities of bulk and breakbulk cargoes. Results for the container operations are not separately reported. Expansion Plans The South Carolina State Ports Authority is constructing a new container terminal on 260 acres of the former US Navy yard on the Cooper River. The first phase is scheduled to open in At full buildout, the new facility will have an annual capacity of about 1.3 million TEU The State Ports Authority and the Charleston District of the US Army Corps of Engineers have initiated studies for a project to increase the depth of the harbor from its current depth of 45 feet. Risingwater Associates 20 Save the Cape, Inc.
25 Savannah River Terminal and Capacity The largest container terminal in North America is the Garden City terminal on the Savannah River above Savannah, operated by the Georgia Port Authority. The facility occupies 1200 acres, and includes two intermodal rail transfer facilities with connections to the lines of both Norfolk Southern Railway Company and CSX Transportation, Inc. The terminal has an annual capacity of about 3.5 million TEU and has seen annual movements as high as 2.6 million TEU, in 2006 and Channel The channel in the Savannah River is now maintained at the depth of 42 feet. The US Army Corps of engineers has just released a draft report and environmental impact statement for a project to increase that depth to as much as 48 feet. The project has been approved by Congress and awaits funding. The container terminal on the Savannah River has received one vessel of 8000 TEU, but this required favorable tides. Highways The Garden City terminal connects to I16 for Atlanta and points west and I95 for points north and south. Charlotte, North Carolina is a 252 miles away. The primary market at Atlanta is 250 miles away. Risingwater Associates 21 Save the Cape, Inc.
26 Railroads The Garden City terminal has on-site railroad facilities connecting to both Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, Inc. In fiscal year 2009, 19% of container movements through the terminal arrived or departed by rail. Maps showing rail routes for double-stack container trains appear in the section on Hampton Roads, above. Market Area This map, prepared by Gulf Engineering & Consultants, Inc., for the Savannah District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, shows the areas (light green) for which the container terminal on the Savannah River provides the lowest cost path for imports and exports, and the area (dark green) for which that terminal provides a transportation cost no more than $50 per TEU more than the lowest cost port. The terminal has a very large primary service area and can compete effectively with Charleston. Risingwater Associates 22 Save the Cape, Inc.
27 Container Traffic and Trends This chart shows the container movements through the container terminal at Garden City, Georgia, for the period Growth since 2001 has exceeded National and regional averages. A likely factor is growth in the Atlanta area, the primary service area for the terminal. Financial Performance The last available annual report, for fiscal year 2009, shows these results: FY 2009 FY 2008 FY 2007 Operating Revenues $227,796,000 $236,898,000 $205,039,000 Operating Expenses 168,535, ,513, ,701,000 Operating Income 59,261,000 65,386,000 63,338,000 Non-Operating Income (4,081,000) 2,876,000 (1,432,000) Capital Contribution 8,891,000 16,810,000 28,417,000 Change in Net Assets 64,071,000 85,072,000 90,323,000 Notable are the consistent (albeit shrinking) positive operating results, with a contribution to net assets in each year. Substantial capital has been contributed by the State of Georgia in each year, however. An additional subsidy to be considered is the channel dredging done by the US Army Corps of Engineers and paid by Congressional appropriations. These are the amounts (by calendar year): $18,462,000 $13,867,000 $16,050,000 $14,721,000 $11,322,000 The figures for 2011 and 2010 are budget. The remaining years are estimates. All figures are from the US Army Corps of Engineers. Risingwater Associates 23 Save the Cape, Inc.
28 Expansion Plans The Georgia Port Authority has a capital improvement plan to increase the annual capacity of the Garden City terminal to 6.5 million TEU by The States of Georgia and South Carolina are cooperating in a project to develop another container terminal on a 1500-acre site in Jasper County, South Carolina, downriver from Savannah. The project would be called the South Atlantic International Terminal. The first stage would provide a capacity of about 1.5 million TEU annually, but the site would support much greater throughput, as much as 6 million TEU. Risingwater Associates 24 Save the Cape, Inc.
29 Wilmington Terminal and Capacity The North Carolina State Ports Authority operates ports for international trade at Wilmington on the Cape Fear River and at Morehead City. Both handle bulk and breakbulk cargo; the Port of Wilmington also has a container terminal. Port of Wilmington Container Terminal Of the 284 acres at the Port of Wilmington, approximately 100 acres is devoted to containers. The port has four cranes for container movements; one berth is so used, and another is being rebuilt. The cranes can accommodate vessels up to 144 feet wide, which is greater than the current width of the locks in the Panama Canal. The capacity of the terminal is approximately 350,000 TEU annually. In its best year, 2009, the terminal handled 225,000 TEU. Channel The Port of Wilmington is 26 miles upriver from the mouth at the Cape Fear. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains the channel in the river to a depth of 42 feet. From the mouth to the sea buoy, about seven miles at sea, the channel is maintained at a depth of 44 feet. However, rapid shoaling at the river mouth requires the pilots to limit passage of vessels drawing 38 feet or more to certain conditions of tide. Maintaining the channel in the area is complicated by natural currents which erode area beaches and deposit the sand in the channel. Biannual dredging and replenishment of sand on the beaches is necessary; the average annual cost of maintenance dredging is about $12 million. Risingwater Associates 25 Save the Cape, Inc.
30 A more severe problem is presented by the turns in the channel between Southport and Battery Island. A combination of turns representing a change in course of 95 degrees does not comply with the standards of the Corps of Engineers for channel turns, nor does it comply with international standards formulated by the International Association of Ports and Harbors. This has been a problem since the channel was deepened to 38 feet in 1972 and larger ships began to navigate the channel. In the study leading to deepening the channel to 42 feet, issued by the Wilmington District of the Corps of Engineers in 1996, the problem was recognized but not addressed. In the course of engineering the deeper channel, the Corps arranged a ship simulation study for the design vessel, a Panamax vessel of 950-foot length and 106-foot beam. In fifteen simulations at different conditions of tide and current, the pilots were unable to navigate the turns without leaving the marked channel. Notwithstanding this result, the Wilmington District went ahead with the project. The river pilots now restrict Panamax vessels drawing 36.5 feet or more to passage at flood tide only. This permits use of areas outside the marked channel to execute the turn. In a study released in 2008 for the proposed North Carolina International Terminal in the Cape Fear River, CH2M Hill, Inc., advised the North Carolina State Ports Authority that, because of the turns, the existing channel to the west of Battery Island could not be enlarged practically for larger vessels, and recommended a new, straight alignment though undisturbed areas to the east of the island. Risingwater Associates 26 Save the Cape, Inc.
31 Highways The Port of Wilmington is a short distance over city streets to the end of Interstate 40, which connects to Raleigh and points north. US 74/76 is available for connections to the west. Parts of US74 are limited access, but most of the route to Charlotte, although four-lane, passes through builtup areas, especially close to Charlotte. The markets in Charlotte are more easily accessible from the container terminals at Charleston. Railroad The Port of Wilmington has trackage on site connected via a terminal railroad to the lines of CSX Transportation, Inc., across the Cape Fear River at Leland. Clearances are adequate for double-stack container trains to Charlotte, and the tracks connect with the CSXT National Gateway. Regular container service to the Port of Wilmington is not now offered by CSXT due to insufficient volume. A map of the CSXT National Gateway system is in the section on Hampton Roads, above. Norfolk Southern Railway Company does not serve the port. Risingwater Associates 27 Save the Cape, Inc.
32 Market Area This map, prepared by Gulf Engineering & Consultants, Inc., for the Savannah District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, shows the areas (light green) for which the container terminal at Wilmington provides the lowest cost path for imports and exports, and the area (dark green) for which that terminal provides a transportation cost no more than $50 per TEU more than the lowest cost port. This shows that the area for which the Port of Wilmington enjoys a cost advantage is quite narrow. There is some prospect of competing with the terminals at Hampton Roads and Charleston for traffic to the upper Midwest, but those terminals offer lower cost of land transportation. Areas to the south and west are within overlapping service areas of Charleston and Savannah, a very competitive environment. Risingwater Associates 28 Save the Cape, Inc.
33 The relatively small market for the container terminal at Wilmington determined by Gulf Engineering & Consultants has been confirmed by a study by Moffatt & Nichol furnished to the North Carolina State Ports Authority in connection with an offering of revenue bonds in early The firm undertook a thorough inquiry as to just what is the market for the Port of Wilmington, using a least-cost supply chain analysis. The firm established, for the 179 Business Economic Areas (BEAs) in the United States, the supply chain costs for all possible ports of entry and exit for 16 regional trade lanes. Each supply chain cost included all components ocean freight, port fees, trucking costs, and costs of intermodal rail, if the movement would more efficiently involve rail. Moffatt & Nichol determined that the Port of Wilmington was in the least-cost supply chain only for five BEAs in the United States, all in North Carolina and only five of the seven BEAs in North Carolina. The State Ports Authority confirmed that 100% of existing container traffic through the Port of Wilmington originated in or was destined for North Carolina. Container Traffic and Trends This chart shows the container movements through tbe Port of Wilmington in the period From 1990 through 2003, the container terminal at the Port of Wilmington experienced growth at a compound annual rate of less than 1%, with movements hovering around 100,000 TEU per year. Then in 2004, the trend of container movements abruptly turned up, growing at an average annual rate of 22% for the next three years. The upturn corresponds to the opening of the channel at a depth of 42 feet; prior to 2004, only 38 feet were available, insufficient for the largest ships able to transit the Panama Canal. Although container movements have increased substantially in the past six years, the movements in 2009, 225,000 TEU, represent only about 1.4% of container traffic through Atlantic coast ports approximately the same share as in Moffatt & Nichol advised the State Ports Authority in early 2010 that capturing additional market share would prove difficult. For the period , the compound annual rate of growth of container traffic at the Port of Wilmington was 4.8%. Risingwater Associates 29 Save the Cape, Inc.
34 Financial Performance The annual reports of the North Carolina State Ports Authority for fiscal years 2010 and 2009 shows these results (which include the port at Morehead City): FY 2010 FY 2009 FY 2008 Operating Revenues $33,318,000 $ 34,559,000 $ 39,731,000 Operating Expenses 35,504,000 36,646,000 37,673,000 Operating Income (2,086,000) (2,087,000) 2,058,000 Non-Operating Income (3,644,000) 4,551,000 8,986,000 Change in Net Assets (5,730,000) 2,464,000 11, 044,000 The North Carolina State Ports Authority includes capital grants in its non-operating income. There were no such grants in fiscal year 2010; in fiscal 2009, the State Ports Authority received $7,735,000; in fiscal 2008, $10,574,000. Most of that represented appropriations from the North Carolina General Assembly. A private corporation would not report capital infusions as income and would have shown a loss of $5,271,000 in fiscal 2009 and a profit reduced to $470,000 in fiscal 2008 Container operations at Wilmington in fiscal year 2010 produced approximately $10,701,000 in revenues and $3, in operating income. Debt service is a significant expense for the State Ports Authority: nearly $3 million per year in recent years. The North Carolina State Ports Authority does not pay taxes or make payments to host communities in lieu of taxes. North Carolina tax law makes available to North Carolina business taxpayers a credit for payments to the State Ports Authority equal to the full amount of such payments in excess of the average for the preceding three years. Channel dredging is done by the US Army Corps of Engineers and paid by Congressional appropriations. These are the amounts for the channel in the Cape Fear River serving the Port of Wilmington: $12,247,000 $11,228,000 $13,000,000 $11,200,000 $ 9,400,000 The figures for 2011 and 2010 are budget. The remaining years are estimates. All figures are from the US Army Corps of Engineers. In 2008, 107 deep-draft vessels called at Wilmington. The dredging cost per call was $105,000. Risingwater Associates 30 Save the Cape, Inc.
35 Expansion Plans The North Carolina State Ports Authority has in progress a project to expand the container terminal facilities at Wilmington to achieve an annual capacity of 600,000 TEU. Although press materials speak of larger than Panamax vessels being accommodated, and the cranes recently installed can span a vessel of 144-foot beam, the channel restrictions, particularly the problem with the turn at Southport, would limit access by such vessels. The upper reaches of the Cape Fear River where the Port of Wilmington is located are not wide; the width of the river in the vicinity of the port is only about 1200 feet, which limits the size vessel able to turn to return downriver. The largest size that can be accommodated without enlarging the river for turns is the current Panamax size of 965 feet overall length. Shoaling at the edges of the turning basin has caused problems even for vessels of that size. In early 2006, the State Ports Authority acquired a 600-acre site on the Cape Fear River near Southport, approximately four miles from the mouth of the river, and announced plans for a very large new container terminal, to be called the North Carolina International Terminal. Preliminary plans released in early 2008 show a terminal with an annual capacity of three million TEU, about fifteen times the movements through the terminal at Wilmington in that year. It would be about the same size, and feature the same automation, as the APM terminal at Portsmouth, Virginia. However, the APM terminal was built for less than $500 million, including dredging and highway and rail connections. The estimates of the cost of the North Carolina International Terminal with related infrastructure exceed $3 billion. Much of that cost is due to the need for highway and rail infrastructure improvements and channel dredging. The major part, $1.2 billion, would be for dredging of the lower reaches of the Cape Fear River to approximately 17 miles at sea to a depth sufficient to accommodate the largest vessels able to transit the Panama Canal after completion of expansion in After failure to obtain State funding for a feasibility study for the dredging, the project was put on hold by the State Ports Authority in July The project has been unanimously opposed by nearby municipalities, including the City of Southport. Risingwater Associates 31 Save the Cape, Inc.
36 The Ports Compared Capacity and Location Capacity and Expansion A reason offered by the North Carolina State Ports Authority for expansion of the State s container handling facilities beyond the Port of Wilmington to the proposed North Carolina International Terminal is the shortage of regional container capacity anticipated for the future. This proposition must be examined. Capacity This table shows the annual capacity of the four container ports at the current time and with planned expansions. The current and expanded capacities are based on statements of the relevant ports authorities, although they are sometimes inconsistent. Potential capacities are from a 2008 report by Martin Associates to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority, and are based on implementation of productivity improvements that would increase the rate of movements in the existing space, adopted at the busiest world ports. Container Terminal Capacity (TEU x 1,000,000) 2009 Current Future Potential Capacity Movements Capacity Capacity (Martin Associates) Hampton Roads Charleston Savannah Wilmington Totals These figures do not include the proposed North Carolina International Terminal on the Cape Fear River or the South Atlantic International Terminal on the Savannah River (Jasper County, S.C). The latter would add six million TEU annually. Rates of growth To forecast when each of these ports will reach their capacity for container movements, we must postulate a rate of growth. In recent years, the compound annual rate of growth at container terminals has been as high as 6.3% for short periods. But then in 2008 it turned Risingwater Associates 32 Save the Cape, Inc.
37 down sharply. For a simple extrapolation of trends, we should look back for a period at least as long as the period of the forecast. We have these annual rates available:! Container traffic at all US ports, : 4.7%! Container traffic at Atlantic Coast ports, : 4.7%! All seaborne freight, worldwide, : 3%! Gross Domestic Product growth in North Carolina: 2.8%.! Container traffic at the Port of Wilmington, thirty years: 2.4%! Container traffic at Atlantic Coast ports, : 2.0%! Population growth in North Carolina: 1.4%. The container industry has used a rule of thumb for compound annual rate of growth of container moves: twice gross domestic product, which in turn is usually about twice the rate of population growth. That would produce a rate of 5.6%. However, the factors that cause growth in container movements to exceed gross domestic product by a factor of two, that is, shift of cargoes to containers and consequent reduction in transportation cost, may have run their course and future growth may more closely follow growth in GDP. Indeed, it is the use of this rule of thumb that resulted in the over-investment in ships and facilities that now besets the industry. We note here that the long-term rate of growth in all seaborne freight has been 3%, slightly more than growth in Gross Domestic Product. Recently prepared estimates of future growth of container traffic use rates in the range 2% to 5%. There appears to be some recognition of factors that suggest that earlier high rates of growth cannot be sustained:! increased cost of fuel as large emerging economies in Asia compete for petroleum;! the necessity to correct the huge trade deficit the United States carries with Asian countries, particularly China;! a change in balance of US trade to exports, which can be absorbed by current excess capacity resulting from a large proportion of empty containers now moving out of US ports as many as one-third of outbound containers. Risingwater Associates 33 Save the Cape, Inc.
38 Capacity Exhaustion This chart shows the increases in capacity planned for the next two decades at the four Southeast regional ports (without the six million TEU at Jasper County), along with growth in container traffic at two rates 5% and 3%: Using various compound annual rates of growth in container traffic from calendar year 2009 figures, these are the dates at which the capacity of the existing terminals would be reached, taking into account expansion projects underway or firmly planned (not including Jasper County, South Carolina): 5% 4% 3% Hampton Roads Charleston Savannah Wilmington Aggregate of all ports The last row of figures assumes that as one or more ports reach capacity traffic would be shifted to other ports in the region. Risingwater Associates 34 Save the Cape, Inc.
39 If the six million TEU capacity at Jasper County is added, the year of capacity saturation at 5% rate of growth would be extended to The table below presents the same forecast, but using the Martin Associates estimates of capacity instead of the capacity figures published by the various state ports authorities. 5% 4% 3% Hampton Roads Charleston Savannah Wilmington Aggregate of all ports This chart shows the relationship of annual rate of growth to the year of capacity saturation (using the capacity figures provided by the state ports authorities) These data suggest that there will not be any shortage of container terminal capacity at ports serving North Carolina for the foreseeable future. Risingwater Associates 35 Save the Cape, Inc.
40 Channel Depth The locks in the Panama Canal currently are approximately 40 feet deep, and can accommodate ships of 39-foot draft. A project now underway and planned for completion in 2014 would add a parallel channel with locks 50 feet deep. A channel depth of 42 feet is usually thought sufficient to accommodate the largest vessels now able to transit the canal, Panamax ships with a capacity slightly more than 4000 TEU. Fifty feet would be required for new Panamax ships, but 48 feet would serve for slightly smaller vessels of 8000 TEU. Some ports authorities are contemplating deeper channels to accommodate ships reaching the East Coast via the Suez Canal, as industrialization expands in south Asia. These are current and planned depths for the four ports: Hampton Roads Charleston Savannah Wilmington 50 feet with plans for increase to 55 feet 45 feet with planning commencing for greater depth 42 feet with planning for depths to 48 feet in the late stage. 42 feet The plans for a new North Carolina International terminal downriver from Wilmington include dredging a channel to 52.5 feet deep. The plans for increasing the depth of the channel and harbor at Hampton Roads to 55 feet are driven as much by the requirements of colliers calling to receive coal from the railroad docks at Norfolk as container ships. Risingwater Associates 36 Save the Cape, Inc.
41 Market Areas This map shows the area within 400 miles of each of the container ports serving North Carolina. Four hundred miles is generally regarded as the most efficient range of trucks greater distances would be served more efficiently by rail. The blue arcs describe a distance of 400 miles from each of the ports at Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah. The red arc describes a distance of 400 miles from the proposed North Carolina International Terminal. This arc is also valid for the Port of Wilmington. These arcs define the trucking service areas of those ports. The triangle on the map describes the area for which the proposed North Carolina International Terminal (and the Port of Wilmington) would be the closest container terminal. Outside of the triangle, another port would be closer. Risingwater Associates 37 Save the Cape, Inc.