The Port of New Orleans is about to get two new 100-foot gauge container gantry cranes, allowing it to handle larger container ships.
The port’s Board of Commissioners last week awarded a $23.4 million contract to China-based Shanghai Zenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., for the construction and delivery of the cranes for the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. There are no domestic manufacturers of container gantry cranes.
“These new cranes are vital to our success and growth here at Port NOLA,” President and CEO Brandy Christian says. “They will increase our efficiency so we can accommodate larger and wider ships more quickly and meet the growing needs of our carriers and shippers.”
For the port to handle larger container ships, it requires equipment with greater capacity. The larger workhorse container ships currently serving the Gulf of Mexico range from 8,000 to 9,500 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and are increasing in frequency. These container ships are best served by 100-foot gauge gantry cranes, which have the ability to work ships stacked with containers more than 20 containers in width.
The new 100-foot gauge cranes will complement the two existing 100-foot gauge cranes in operation at the terminal site. This will also allow the 50-foot gauge gantry cranes that are currently in operation to be utilized by smaller vessels.
Port NOLA is also currently in the engineering and design phase of extending the 100-foot gauge rail tracks to accommodate the new cranes at Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. The purchase of the two new cranes supports Port NOLA’s strategic master plan to invest in current facilities as well as additional terminal facilities to ensure the port is able to meet current and projected volume.
Container volumes have grown significantly at the port in the past few years, setting an all-time record in 2018 with 591,253 TEUs, up 12.3% in just one year.
Port NOLA’s container business has doubled in the past 10 years and growth is accelerating, fueled by export resins produced by chemical companies along the Lower Mississippi River and in Southwest Louisiana. Collectively, LNG, oil and gas and petrochemical companies, such as Shintech, ExxonMobil, Dow and Formosa, have announced investments of more than $80 billion in Louisiana over the past several years.
The Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal is the only container terminal in Louisiana engaging in international trade.
The Panama Canal expansion and increased Gulf Coast calls via the Suez Canal have provided Port NOLA with greater access to and from more international markets than ever before. Port NOLA now reaches 58 global ports of call directly and connects with more than 450 via transshipment with containerized and breakbulk cargo.
Through construction, transport and crane installation the entire project is scheduled to take approximately 18 to 20 months from contract approval.