Savannah looks to boost capacity, market share
The Georgia Ports Authority is increasing capacity at the Port of Savannah, even as container volumes fall, and hopes to continue to grow its share of the market.
“Now is the time for our ports to expand capacity and prepare for the next wave of cargo shipped to Georgia,” Doug J. Marchand, the port’s executive director, said Monday. “Our ports are in the advantageous position of being able to attract additional cargo, even in a challenging economy, while preparing for future growth.”
Today, the Garden City Terminal handles 2.7 million TEUs per year and has annual capacity of about 3.2 million TEUs.
By paving additional area and strengthening pavement in other parts of its facility so that containers can be stacked higher, the port plans to boost capacity to 6.5 million TEUs within the same 1,200-acre terminal footprint.
Like many ports around the country, Savannah is seeing volumes fall because of the slowdown in the world economy. Container volumes in Savannah are down 4 percent in the four months ending Oct. 31, and 7.4 percent in October. Overall cargo volumes at all GPA facilities are up 1.1 percent for the four months, but were down 6.2 percent in October.
With the economy weakening, the GPA plans to keep growing by placing increased emphasis on increasing its market share among competing ports, said Robert Morris, director of external affairs.
To attract cargo, the port is planning a number of improvements, including increased capacity.
On Monday, the port’s board of directors approved plans to spend $2.5 million pave a 10-acre area currently used by PCS, a subsidiary of Potash Corp., as a liquid bulk terminal for anhydrous ammonia.
Space near the recently completed Berths 8 and 9 will also be paved. The port is also building racks for refrigerated cargo so that reefer boxes can be stacked four-high.
Six years ago, nearly half the terminal was used for containers stored on chassis, while today most containers are in grounded blocks of containers, Morris said.
The port is buying additional equipment to handle the grounded containers. It has 60 rubber-tire gantry cranes operating at Garden City Terminal and 14 under construction. The port expects to have 158 at work at the terminal by 2015.
The port also said four additional super post-Panamax cranes are expected to arrive in early February and will be in operation in May.
“I am confident the GPA will not only survive the current recession, but will come out of it in a position to create additional jobs and economic opportunities throughout Georgia,” said Steve Green, chairman of the GPA board.