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The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) grew volume across most business segments in 2012, authority officials announced on Tuesday.
Container volume at the Port of Charleston climbed 9.6 percent to 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) compared with 2011. Charleston was the fastest-growing East Coast container port from January through November, the latest month volume data was available from competing ports, SCPA officials said in a prepared statement.
The Port of Charleston also handled more than 1 million tons of non-containerized freight, up about 26 percent year over year.
"Drivers of this growth included power-generation equipment and BMW exports at the Columbus Street Terminal, as well as additional activity at Union Pier, such as steel billets," SCPA officials said.
The Port of Georgetown in 2012 handled 532,472 pier tons of freight — mostly bulk cement, petroleum coke and steel — up 17 percent versus 2011.
"As we continue the momentum on our next harbor deepening project, I expect further growth from our port in exports, especially as we further develop transloading facilities and our state's intermodal rail network," said SCPA President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome.
Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach, Calif., reported total 2012 volume of 6,045,662 TEUs, down 0.3 percent compared with 2011. Loaded inbound container volume increased 1.2 percent to 3,062,290 TEUs, loaded outbound volume rose 2.2 percent to 1,504,188 TEUs and total empty container volume declined 5.6 percent to 1,443,184 TEUs.
In December, the port's total volume climbed 9.8 percent year over year to 560,120 TEUs. Loaded inbound volume jumped 18.9 percent to 295,579 TEUs, loaded outbound volume increased 4.9 percent to 135,561 TEUs and total empties dipped 2.4 percent to 128,980 TEUs.
"A busy December is not typical, as shippers use this time of year to import goods for the slower winter and spring retail seasons. But December 2012 capped a surge that made up for the year's lackluster start, ending in a virtual tie with 2011," port officials said in a prepared statement. "The rise in container traffic came as more ocean carriers added services to Long Beach in recent months."