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Tue 1 May 2007 10:47 AM

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Top 10 North American ports

Booming trans-Pacific trade with the powerhouse economies of Asia has doubled container port throughput in North America in just one decade. The rapid recovery from the events of 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico has driven the ports of North America to smash records across the board in 2006.

South Louisiana, US

The Port of South Louisiana is the premier sea gateway for US import and export traffic. The vast port stretches 54 miles along the Mississippi River making it the largest tonnage port district in the Western Hemisphere and ranks fourth in the world. It handled over 248 million tonnes of cargo in 2006, brought to its terminals by vessel, barge, rail, and truck.

Over 50,000 barges and 4000 ocean-going vessels call at the port each year, making it the top ranked in the US for both export and total tonnage.

With exports of 52 million tonnes of cargo a year - more than any other port in North America - the port accounts for a massive 15% of total US exports.

The port serves primarily as landlord to eight facilities leased to operating companies such as Peavey, Occidental, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. The exception is the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal, which the Port purchased in 1992 and is currently redeveloping into a first rate complex to accommodate a variety of dry bulk and break-bulk cargo.

Three major interstate highways connect the port to major US markets, and throughout the port's jurisdiction an excellent state highway system feeds traffic to major interstate arteries.

Within the 108 miles (174 kilometres) of deep-water frontage on both sides of the Mississippi River are more than 50 piers and docks. Vessels drafting 45 to 47 feet (14 metres) call within the port area throughout the year. The inland barge system, comprised of 19,262 miles (30,992 kilometres) of waterway, moves more than 250 million tonnes of cargo annually upriver to major US markets in the Midwest and Northeast. Six major oil and gas pipelines serve the port. South Louisiana is the terminus for the nation's only offshore oil superport, located 15 miles (24 kilometres) off the coast. The superport provides over 500,000 barrels of crude oil daily through a 48 inch (122 centimetre) pipeline. The port is the originating point for Capline, a 40 inch (101 centimetre), 640-mile (1030 kilometre) pipeline that carries an average of 800,000 barrels of oil daily from Louisiana to the middle of the United States.

In the heart of the Port's jurisdiction is a 335-acre (135-hectare) maritime industrial park. The Globalplex Intermodal Terminal is a public terminal owned by the Port of South Louisiana and operated by Associated Terminals and Kinder-Morgan, for both ships and barges that provides handling and storage for bulk, breakbulk and container cargo. Globalplex is a major hub for manufacturing, distribution and logistics companies.

From Panamax vessels to inland barges, newly expanded docks are capable of moving cargo to storage warehouses, from ship to barge, or to truck or rail transfer, completing the intermodal sea freight network.


Vancouver, Canada

The Port of Vancouver is connected to every key market in North America by a network of major railways, offering transcontinental and double-stack capability to serve markets throughout Canada, the US and into Mexico.

With 25 major marine cargo terminals, 67 berths and some of the most extensive on-dock rail facilities of any port on the west coast of North America, the port handles more than 70 million tonnes of cargo each year.

The port has 17 bulk terminals that offer specialised material handling of coal, grain, sulphur, potash, liquid bulk chemicals, and grain products. Collectively, terminals at the Port of Vancouver offer virtually no draft restrictions, post-Panamax capacity, and extensive on-dock rail facilities. Bulk cargo accounts for three-quarters of the annual throughput. The port has three breakbulk cargo terminals that specialize in handling high value forest products such as lumber, wood pulp and other value-added cargo.

Forest products account for 95% of total breakbulk cargo and primarily include pulp, lumber and plywood.

Vancouver is the closest major North American port to Asia, and is a strategic alternative for container cargo destined for US markets.

In response to the dramatic growth in container cargo, Vancouver offers super-post-Panamax capacity and three modern container terminals.

The port is building for the future, and plans are underway to increase container handling capacity to 4 million TEU by 2012. Vancouver was the first Canadian port to install gamma ray scanning technology.


New Orleans, US

The Port of New Orleans sits at the centre of the world's busiest port complex - Louisiana's Lower Mississippi River. Its proximity to the American Midwest via a 14,500-mile inland waterway system, six major railroads and the interstate highway system makes New Orleans a strong contender in the Top Ten North American Ports, and a port of choice for the movement of cargo such as steel, rubber, coffee, containers and manufactured goods.

The Port of New Orleans is the only deepwater port in the United States served by six class one railroads. This gives port users direct and economical rail service to or from anywhere in the country. A productive and efficient private maritime industry has helped produce impressive results, including the USA's top market share for import steel, natural rubber and coffee.

In the past 10 years, the Port of New Orleans has invested more than US$400 million in new state-of-the-art facilities. Improved breakbulk and container terminals feature new multipurpose cranes, expanded marshalling yards and a new roadway to handle truck traffic.

The port's facilities include 22 million square feet of cargo handling area and more than 6 million square feet of covered storage area. The port's facilities accommodate an average of 2300 vessel calls each year.

The $101 million Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal opened in the first quarter of 2004. The 61-acre terminal operates with four gantry cranes in the 48 acre marshalling yard. It annual capacity is 366,000 TEU.

Overall, the port's 2 mile long quay between Henry Clay Avenue and Milan Street terminals is the world's longest wharf and can accommodate as many as 15 vessels simultaneously.

New Orleans claims to be America's most intermodal port. It is connected to major markets across the continent by the interstate highway system. 50 ocean carriers, 16 barge lines and 75 truck lines also serve the port. A two-lane truckway on port property helps expedite transit.

The Port of New Orleans is located on the 14,500 mile mid-America inland waterway system, which serves 62% of the nation's consumers. In total, more than 6000 ocean vessels move annually through New Orleans on the Mississippi River. The port's general cargo volume has averaged 11.2 million tonnes, with a record 14.1 million tonnes in 1998.

New Orleans regained its reputation as the ‘Gateway to the America's' in 2006, as port-wide cargo figures rose dramatically. "The port's recovery from the unprecedented events of 2005 has been nothing short of remarkable," said Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. According to figures published in March, which cover January through December 2006, cargo volumes within the Port of New Orleans exceeded the five-year average by 4%.


Valdez, US

Valdez is the United States' farthest north ice free port with the best access to Alaska's interior as well as to the United States Pacific Northwest, Northern Canada and Pacific Rim trade routes.

Valdez is the southern terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, from which it draws the vast majority of its trade. Supertankers navigate the deep, ice-free waters of Valdez Arm each day, handling 1.5 million barrels of crude oil.

The Valdez City Dock is a 600 feet wharf, where services available include: water, lights, phone, and garbage disposal. Fueling and wastewater disposal services are available through private companies.

The Valdez Container Terminal Dock is a 700 feet concrete floating dock, extending to 1200 feet with two dolphins. Water depth at mean low tide is 50 feet.

The Container Dock is tied to a 21-acre marshalling yard by two 200-foot ramps. The dock is designed as a multi-purpose berth to handle containerised, roll on/roll off and lift on/lift off operations. The marshalling yard contains a total area of 21 acres of land. It has container storage capacity of 560 40-foot vans and 360 dual reefer outlets.

A grain terminal consisting of nine concrete silos 112 feet tall and 33 feet in diameter with a total capacity of 522,000 bushels is also located on the Container Terminal grounds.

The 1989 oil spill occurred as the oil tanker Exxon Valdez was leaving the terminal at Valdez full of oil. The spill occurred at Bligh Reef, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Valdez. Although the oil did not reach Valdez, it destroyed much of the marine life.


Montreal, Canada

The Canadian Port of Montreal offers a relatively quick direct route between North America's industrial heartland and the Northern European and Mediterranean markets.

Montreal is also one of the busiest inland ports in the world and a key transfer point for transatlantic cargo. Along with its port, the metropolis boasts two international airports and railway and highway networks leading offering quick transit times to many strategic parts of North America.

Linked to more than 100 countries around the world by reputable shipping lines, the port is located on one of the largest navigable waterways in the world, the St. Lawrence River, and offers the shortest route between major European and Mediterranean ports and North American markets. Situated 1600 kilometres inland from the Atlantic, it is the international port closest to the industrial heartland, nestled within a hinterland of some 100 million Canadian and American consumers.

Of all the ports along the North American East Coast, Montreal is the one that offers, year-round, the fastest, most direct and most economical access to major markets in Central Canada, the US Midwest and the US Northeast. Transatlantic, rail and road links interconnect to reduce door-to-door cargo transportation costs.

Every year the Port of Montreal handles more than 20 million tonnes of highly-diversified cargo: containerised and general cargo, grain and other dry bulk, petroleum and other liquid bulk products. Its export and import container traffic is such that it fosters economies of scale, allowing shipping lines to offer regular, high-frequency services employed by companies requiring just-in-time delivery.

In addition to facilitating exports and supplying industry with all types of raw materials and finished products, the Port of Montreal creates 18,000 direct and indirect jobs, and generates business revenues of $2 billion annually.

The port's modern facilities handle all types of cargo through facilities which include four modern container terminals, large, open areas for handling dry bulk, including a terminal at Contrecoeur, some 40 kilometres downstream from Montreal, berths for petroleum products and other liquid bulk, and a dedicated grain terminal with storage capacity of 260,000 tonnes.

To expedite the movement of goods around the port a railway network with more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of track serving almost every berth, cranes with heavy-lift capacities, and special ramps for ro-ro cargo.

General cargo represents about 50% of the total traffic handled at the port. It is the sector of port activity that is the most labour-intensive and has the greatest economic impact. It is also the most competitive sector among ports.

The Port of Montreal handles more than one million TEU annually, and container traffic continues to enjoy the strongest growth at the port. It has grown at an average annual rate of 5.3% for the past 10 years. The container terminals are equipped with 14 computerised dockside gantry cranes ranging from 30 to 60 tonnes, as well as yard gantry cranes and other handling equipment, and numerous electrical outlets for temperature-controlled containers.


Los Angeles, US

The Port of Los Angeles, Southern California's gateway to international commerce, is located in San Pedro Bay, just 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Approximately 80 major shipping lines call at the port contributing to nearly 3000 vessel calls annually. The port acts as a principal gateway to the Asian markets and the top annual trading partners are China ($68.8 billion), Japan ($24.1 billion), Taiwan ($10.8 billion), South Korea ($6.7 billion), and Thailand ($5.6 billion).

The value of the cargo handled topped $190 billion in 2006 and ranks as the busiest container port in the United States, and eighth busiest in the world.

In calendar year 2005, the top imports handled by the port by value were recorded as furniture, clothing, toys and sporting goods; vehicle and vehicle parts; and electronic products.

The Port encompasses 7500 acres, 43 miles of waterfront and features 27 cargo terminals, including dry and liquid bulk, container, breakbulk, automobile and omni facilities. Combined, these terminals handle almost 190 million metric revenue tonnes of cargo annually. The specialised ro-ro berth handled over 250,000 vehicles in 2005. Last year, the port moved an impressive 8.5 million TEU, establishing a new container record once again.

This booming seaport not only sustains its competitive edge with record-setting cargo operations, but is also known for its groundbreaking environmental initiatives and is a member of the clean air scheme along with neighbouring Long Beach.

As a proprietary and self-supporting department, the port is not supported by taxes. Instead, revenue is derived from fees for shipping services such as dockage, wharfage, pilotage, storage, property rentals, royalties and other port services.


New York & New Jersey, US

The Port of New York/New Jersey is the largest port complex on the East Coast of North America and is located at the hub of the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world, with access to the extensive interstate highway and rail networks. The Port Authority directly oversees the operation of seven cargo terminals in the New York-New Jersey region.

International cargo volumes in the Port of New York and New Jersey hit record levels in 2006, and robust growth projections have prompted the Port Authority to plan US$2 billion in seaport investments in the next 10 years.

There were 5577 ship calls in the Port of New York and New Jersey in 2006, compared to 5,322 in 2005. Container cargo volumes in the Port of New York and New Jersey rose nearly 8% in 2006 to a new record high, led primarily by continued growth in trade with the Far East, Europe and Southeast Asia. The value of all cargo moving through the port in 2006 exceeded $149 billion for the first time, up 13% from 2005. Last year also saw the number TEU handled in the port exceed 5 million units for the first time.

Over the next decade extensive infrastructure upgrades are planned for marine terminal facilities and off-port roads and railways to improve the flow of cargo, in addition to investments in the 50-foot harbour deepening project.

Construction of the port's rail system is underway, with a scheduled completion date of 2011. The project will double the rail capacity of Port Newark to more than 100,000 containers a year, and provide a 9000-foot arrival and departure track designed to improve capacity on the port's rail network. When complete, the entire ExpressRail system, will be able to handle 1.3 million shipping containers a year.

During the past 10 years, the cargo volume has doubled and the rail volume handled has nearly tripled. The substantial multi-billion dollar commitment to the port will allow larger ships to call on port terminals, and enhance the overall flow of cargo.

In 2006 the total container volume handled in the Port of New York and New Jersey stood at 5,092,806 TEU, a new annual record.

The port's total general cargo volume, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Census, increased to 31,194,421 tonnes in 2006, compared with 28,132,497 tonnes in 2005. General cargo imports totalled 22,126,272 tonnes, a 9.3 % increase over the 2005 import volume. General cargo exports also increased, by 14.8% in 2006.

The top five trading partners China, Italy, India, Germany and Brazil.


Long Beach, US

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world's busiest seaports, and the leading gateway for trade between the United States and Asia. The surge in Pacific trade has propelled Long Beach to second busiest port status for the United States market. In 2005, the Port handled more than 6.7 million containers with cargo valued at more than $100 billion. This comprised more than 80 million metric tonnes of cargo clocking up an average 18,400 TEU each day.

The port's loaded containers account for 33% percent moving through all California ports, 26% moving through all West Coast ports and 13% of total US port movements. In international terms Long Beach ranks as the 12th busiest container cargo port in the world.

The port comprises 3200 acres of land with 10 piers offering 80 berths, serviced by an impressive 71 post-panamax gantry cranes. The facility is a major economic driver for the region, representing a massive $47 billion in direct and indirect business sales yearly, from which 30,000 jobs in the locality are directly generated. The port claims 1.4 million jobs throughout the US are related to Long Beach-generated trade.

East Asian trade accounts for more than 90% of the shipments through the port and the top trading partners are, unsurprisingly, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

The top imports by value are principally finished goods such as machinery, electrical goods, and vehicles.

Taking an unprecedented action to improve air quality in the region, the port of Long Beach has adopted a clean air action plan, a bold initiative aimed at significantly reducing the health risks posed by air pollution from port-related ships, trains, trucks, terminal equipment and harbour craft.

The plan proposes hundreds of millions of dollars in investments by the ports, the state, and port-related industry to cut emissions from shipping-related activity by 47% in five years.


Houston, US

The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located a few hours sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in the US in total tonnage, and tenth in the world in total tonnage.

The Port of Houston is made up of the Port of Houston Authority and the 150-plus private industrial companies along the Houston Ship Channel. More than 200 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Houston in 2006 during which a total of 7550 vessel calls were recorded. The Port of Houston has an impressive listing of firsts, from unloading the world's first container ship to becoming America's first port to receive ISO 14001 compliance.

Economic studies reveal that ship channel-related businesses support more than 287,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout Texas while generating nearly $11 billion in economic impact. Additionally, more than $649 million in state and local tax revenues are generated by business activities related to the port.

The Port of Houston has been instrumental in the city of Houston's development as a centre of international trade. 88 shipping lines offer services linking Houston with 1,053 ports in 203 countries. It is also home to a $15 billion petrochemical complex, the largest in the nation and second largest worldwide.

In October 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Water Resources Development Act, which paved the way for widening and deepening the Houston ship channel. In 2005, the port authority completed a five-and-a-half-year plan to deepen the channel from 40 to 45 feet and widen it from 400 to 530 feet.

The dredging was carried out to improve the ship channel and it is hoped this will enhance Houston's competitiveness by allowing ships to use their capacity more fully, thus lowering unit transportation costs. It is also claimed that these improvements will reduce collision and oil spill risks in the channel. This expansion will also accommodate the anticipated mix of marine vessels in the future.

Houston's geographic location has proven to be one of its best assets. Centrally located on the Gulf Coast, Houston is a strategic gateway for cargo originating in or destined for the US West and Midwest. Houston lies within close reach of one of the nation's largest concentrations of consumers.

More than 17 million people live within 300 miles of the city, and approximately 60 million live within 700 miles. Ample truck, rail and air connections allow shippers to economically transport their goods between Houston and inland points.


Corpus Christi, Texas, US

The Port of Corpus Christi is mid-way along the Texas coast on the Gulf of Mexico approximately 150 miles north of the United States/Mexico border. The port benefits from excellent multi-modal connections to the wider US and boasts a deepwater channel depth of 45 feet. The port area has more than 125 acres of open storage, and more than 295,500 square feet of covered dockside storage and fabrication sites. The port's modern multi-purpose facilities are ideal for a variety of cargoes, and the warm, arid climate creates the perfect setting for year-round operations.

Corpus Christi Channel is entered from the Gulf of Mexico through Aransas Pass, which passes between San Jose and Mustang Islands. With its entrance protected by jetties, the channel has project depths of 45 feet.

Tugs of up to 4000 hp are available at Corpus Christi and serve all of the Corpus Christi Bay area. The port has mobile cranes geared to 600 tonnes, a 45-tonne floating crane, and one 100-tonne stiff-legged derrick. Corpus Christi has limited repair facilities for medium-draft vessels, but none for making major repairs or for dry-docking deep-draft vessels. The nearest such facilities are at nearby Galveston, Texas.

The largest floating drydock has a lifting capacity of 2200 tonnes, with a length of 200 feet and a width of 70 feet.

The largest vertical boat lift has a capacity of 170 tonnes and can handle vessels up to 125 feet in length. A marine railway with a cradle length of 140 feet and a clear width of 52 feet at the top of the keel blocks can handle keeled vessels up to 650 tonnes and flat bottom craft to 1000 tonnes. Several well-equipped firms are available for making above-the-waterline repairs to most commercial freight vessels.

The city of Corpus Christi lies on the Texas coast and is a major petroleum and natural gas production centre. Heavy industry abounds in the area, with oil refineries, smelting plants, chemical works, and food processing establishments scattered throughout the city and its outlying regions. The port has benefited from strong investment to serve these sectors and is well equipped with heavy lift capabilities for the industrial business.

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