14 >> 12 Ports and terminals

The relative strength of breakbulk markets concerns ports and terminal operators who must decide how to allocate resources and investments. Traditional


commodities such as paper and wood pulp have shiſted to containers and those cargoes, among others, such as heavy-liſt, require dedicated staging and storage facilities at seaports. “It’s a delicate dance how much space to allocate to containers

“There is now a substantial new

market for exporting LNG that didn’t exist five years ago.”

– Dennis Devlin, DB Schenker

Issue 7 2017 - FBJNA

directions for our fleet,” said

Berg. “We aim to have a holistic fleet and a capable platform that is able to adjust to the uncertainty of any given project, the political turmoil all over the world, and to bankruptcies among customers and competitors.”

and other cargo opportunities,” said Frank Camp, director of non- containerized sales at the port of Jacksonville. Ports like Jacksonville and the

Northwest Seaport Alliance ports of Seattle and Tacoma meet that challenge by maintaining a diverse portfolio of assets. “It’s not easy to redeploy terminal assets quickly because of long- term lease commitments,” said Bari Bookout, chief commercial

officer for non-containerized cargo at NWSA. But ports must still invest in

specialized breakbulk facilitates if they are to attract that type of cargo. “Port Houston maintains its status as the number one breakbulk port in the nation, despite the decline in steel volumes since the peak in 2014,” noted Stan Swigart, marketing director, Port Houston. “We continue to make every effort to attract a diversified breakbulk cargo mix, with investments at our Turning Basin wharves and laydown yards.” The Port of Baltimore leads

in high and heavy cargo and in agricultural and construction equipment. “Our berths had to be totally reconstructed to handle the heavy stuff,” said Rick Powers, the port’s director sales and marketing. “We also invested in two heavy-liſt cranes and reconfigured our rail to facilitate direct discharge of cargo.” Breakbulk cargoes have

slipped at NWSA over the last couple of years, noted Bookout, an assessment concurred to


Providing stevedoring & terminal operations in more than 42 U.S. ports and 80 locations

Thorco Clairvaux in Hobart, Tasmania loading a passenger ferry. (Thorco photo.)

by the other ports, but many believe the cycle has reached bottom. “We are starting to see breakbulk numbers that are flat, which is good because they not declining,” she said. “We are receiving positive indications from customers in construction, mining, wind energy, and oil and gas.” The targeting of


breakbulk cargoes by container carriers is necessarily of concern to ports and terminal operators. “Breakbulk terminals need to be looking continually for ways to improve productivity and keep costs down in order to compete,” said Chris Smith, vice president for breakbulk at Ports America. “Ports America has been aggressively deploying our process improvement teams throughout our network to constantly look for opportunities to keep costs down.” Low oil prices have been a

big story for breakbulk, with reductions

in steel volumes

related to oil and gas seen at Port Houston, but there are bright spots as well. “Wind

energy components have been one of the strong project cargo segments,” said Swigart. There have been major

investments near Houston in ethane crackers to manufacture resins. “This has been driven by low-cost natural gas feedstocks to produce various ethylene products,” Swigart noted. In Florida, road and residential

construction has been robust, and Jaxport has seen increases in breakbulk steel volumes. “There is a lot of movement toward updating power generation in

“It’s not easy to redeploy terminal

assets quickly because of long-term lease commitments.” -- Bari Bookout, NWSA

Florida,” said Camp, “and we are participating in moves of transformers, generators, and turbines.” benefited

Jaxport has from natural

also gas

liquefaction projects, some of them directed towards providing bunker fuel for the locally-based carriers TOTE Maritime and Crowley.

in 2018 to 2022 due to a moderate uptick in drilling activity,” said Swigart, “but

little contribution

from other types of steel imports. We expect breakbulk volumes at Port Houston to level out with very modest growth over the next five years.” Smith still

sees breakbulk 16 >>

Overall the outlook is guarded. “We expect steel to grow mildly


Baltimore Baton Rouge Bayonne Beaumont Boston

Brunswick Camden Charleston Concord, CA Coos Bay

Corpus Christi

Crockett Davisville Eureka, CA Freeport Galveston Gulfport Houston Jacksonville Long Beach Longview Los Angeles Thorco Isabella in New York Harbor. (Thorco photo.)


New Orleans New York Newark Olympia

Philadelphia Port Arthur Port Canaveral Port Everglades Port Hueneme

Portland, ME Providence San Diego Savannah Tacoma Tampa

Vancouver, WA Virginia

Wilmington, DE Wilmington, NC

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