Port of New Orleans to Houston: Watch your back
September 17, 2010 - LM Editorial
Having proved its resilience in the face of Hurricane Katrina and the recent BP spill, the Port of New Orleans is ready to demonstrate it can compete with some of its regional neighbors for more cargo in the future.
Port president and CEO Gary LaGrange highlighted several recent gains made in new cargoes, during his annual address sponsored by the International Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of New Orleans, and issued a warning to the Port of Houston.
“Check your rearview mirror gentlemen, we’re coming,” he said with a laugh. But on the eve of the annual Association of Port Authorities meeting in Nova Scotia next week, the words represent a serious threat.
“The port is in the process of investing more than $100 million into facilities. Some $67 million is being spent on recovery projects either completed, under construction or in the design phase. Another $44 million is currently being spent on capital projects,” he said. “Included in those numbers are two new container gantry cranes scheduled for delivery in early 2011, Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal expansion, a new Riverfront Cold Storage Terminal, the complete refurbishment of the Julia Street Cruise Terminal and a new modern dredge.”
LaGrange also highlighted cargo gains, especially during the first half of 2010. So far in 2010, total cargo is up 6.6 percent over a year ago with a 60 percent surge in containerized cargo leading the way. Top Port commodities, such as natural rubber and coffee, also realized gains of 14 percent and 5.4 percent respectively so far in 2010. After a many year absence, the port reinstated banana imports, as Seaboard Marine imports about 15,000 40-pound boxes of bananas each week.
In step with the world economic climate and the weak dollar, the port continues to see gains in exports, as well. Total exports rose 55 percent so far in 2010, with chemicals up 74.3 percent. Overall, break-bulk exports are up some 15.3 percent, while container exports rose 61 percent.
LaGrange also made mention of the Panama Canal’s widening in 2014, and the opportunity to attract all-water container vessels in direct calls from Asia.