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Global Partnership Behind New $1.8B Louisiana Port Terminal On Lower Mississippi

Wed December 14, 2022 - Southeast Edition #1
Louisiana Economic Development

The new Louisiana International Terminal will serve vessels of all sizes. (Louisiana Economic Development photo)
The new Louisiana International Terminal will serve vessels of all sizes. (Louisiana Economic Development photo)

Gov. John Bel Edwards has unveiled an historic public-private partnership between the state, the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), and two global maritime industry leaders to build a $1.8 billion container facility on the Lower Mississippi River according to Louisiana Economic Development, or LED.

The new Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) in St. Bernard Parish will be able to serve vessels of all sizes, dramatically increasing the gulf state's import and export capacity and stimulating the creation of more than 17,000 new jobs statewide by 2050, according to estimates from Port NOLA.

New Jersey-based Ports America, one of the continent's largest marine terminal operators, and Geneva, Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), through its terminal development and investment arm Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), have committed $800 million toward the project.

LED noted on its website that in addition to the partners' investment, the terminal construction will be supported by a substantial commitment from Port NOLA, as well as state and federal funding sources. The joint venture also will run the facility once it is open.

"This public-private partnership with the Port of New Orleans, TiL and Ports America has the potential to become one of the most impactful economic development projects in our state's history," Edwards said in his announcement. "It leverages the economic power of our greatest natural resource — the Mississippi River — and enhances Louisiana's ability to attract new investment from companies competing in the global marketplace."

He added that the state's access to global markets expands opportunities for both urban and rural communities along the river. Calling the new St. Bernard Parish terminal a "world-class logistics asset," Edwards said that it would "benefit not only residents and businesses in south Louisiana, [but] advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, and energy workers all across the state."

The project is currently in the design and permit phase of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) environmental review process. Barring unforeseen delays, construction is scheduled to begin in 2025, with the first ship berth to open in 2028, LED noted.

New Terminal to Service ‘Ultra-Large' Container Ships

LED noted that when construction is complete and the Louisiana International Terminal is fully operational, it will be able to annually handle two million TEUs, or 20-ft. Equivalent Units, by taking advantage of the deeper 50-ft. Lower Mississippi River Ship Channel and eliminating any height restrictions from river bridges. Through Port NOLA's multimodal connectivity, the LIT should also strengthen Louisiana's ability to attract distribution centers and logistics services.

Following an extensive site selection process and several feasibility studies, Port NOLA bought 1,200 acres of land in Violet, La. in 2020 — enough property to accommodate the terminal, value-added services and warehousing facilities, and provide a natural buffer for the nearby community. The latest design incorporates community feedback gathered over the last two years about traffic, drainage, and other impacts on nearby homes and businesses.

Tom Van Eynde, TiL's terminal investment director for North America, called the new terminal on the Lower Mississippi "a key facility in the Gulf of Mexico capable of handling ultra-large container vessels."

"Today, the container trade in Port NOLA mainly consists of export cargo, making it an exception among U.S. ports, which are usually import-heavy," he continued. "LIT will attract new container trades, providing access for local industry to cost-competitive shipping options. The development of this facility cements [our] commitment to further strengthen American infrastructure, making Port NOLA accessible for larger vessels and increasing its throughput capacity in a sustainable way that will bring measurable benefits to the community."

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain called the partnership between the entities behind the new St. Bernard Parish terminal "pivotal for the future growth in trading Louisiana agricultural commodities in the global marketplace. While bulk grains, grain products and edible oils are exported through the port, the dominant product is poultry, one of the largest agricultural enterprises in [the state], contributing over $1 billion to [its] economy."

Each Investor Among the Best in Global Shipping

Port NOLA is a modern multimodal gateway for global commerce and an in-demand cruise port — delivering seamless, integrated logistics solutions between river, rail, and road transport. The deep-water port offers access to more than 30 major inland hubs such as Dallas, Memphis, Chicago, and Canada via 14,500 miles of waterways, six Class I railroads, and interstate highways. Its strategic alignment with the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a Class III connecting railroad, strengthens Port NOLA's position as an integrated hub and supports its mission of driving regional economic prosperity.

A leader in technology-driven solutions, Jersey City-based Ports America is the largest marine terminal operator in the U.S. with operations in 70 locations and 33 ports nationwide. The company covers a wide range of supply chain services including container, roll-on/roll off, breakbulk, military and cruise ship operations.

Terminal Investment Limited Sàrl (TiL) invests in, develops and manages container terminals around the world. It was founded in 2000 to secure container handling capacity in the major ports for MSC. Since then, TiL has grown and evolved to become one of the largest and most geographically diversified container terminal operators in the world, with more than 70 container terminals in 31 countries as well as several new projects under development.

Privately-owned Mediterranean Shipping Co. is known as one of the world's leading container shipping lines and a leader in transportation and logistics. MSC has 675 offices across 155 countries and employs over 150,000 people. With access to an integrated network of road, rail and sea transport resources, the company prides itself on delivering global service with local knowledge. MSC's shipping line sails on more than 260 trade routes, calling at 520 ports around the globe.

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