The Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) ended the year in 2021 strengthening its economic benefit to the region and state with wins across all four of its lines of business: cargo, rail, industrial real estate and cruise.
The calendar year closed with breakbulk and bulk volumes up 46% from calendar year 2020. Port NOLA moved 2.4 million short tons last year in comparison to 1.7 million short tons in 2020.
Port NOLA says it continues to see encouraging growth in its breakbulk business in part due to its terminal operators’ diverse handling capabilities for commodities ranging from steel, natural rubber, project cargo and plywood to cargoes moving in super sacks such as sand, tapioca flour and even coffee.
Due to global container equipment shortages and current market dynamics, many shippers have turned to breakbulk shipping solutions at Port NOLA. The biggest increases in breakbulk and bulk cargo were driven by steel, plywood and super sack cargo.
The port also continued to make significant progress in infrastructure investment in the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal with the arrival of four new 100-foot-gauge container gantry cranes in December of 2021. The new gantry cranes, expected to be operational in spring of this year, add to the over $100 million recent investment into the current terminal, which serves as Louisiana’s only international container port.
“Ending the year with such strong breakbulk volumes highlights Port NOLA’s diverse logistics solutions as we continue to position ourselves as an alternative gateway during supply chain disruptions,” said Brandy Christian, President and CEO Port NOLA and CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB). “As carriers and shippers continue to look to Port NOLA as the gulf gateway of choice, we are committed to investing in our state’s existing maritime assets, while also making progress on a second container facility that will serve vessels of all sizes, and create more jobs and opportunity for Louisiana.”
INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE
With the recent acquisition of approximately 1,100 acres of property in Violet, La., Port NOLA reached a significant milestone toward development of the Louisiana International Terminal (LIT)—a new container facility in St. Bernard Parish that will complement Port NOLA’s uptown facility and meet growing volume demands.
The LIT project began with the acquisition of riverfront acreage in December 2020, along with initial due diligence studies and proactive community engagement as part of the overall permitting process. When fully developed, the 400-acre terminal will serve as a maritime centerpiece and economic catalyst, with nearby property available for a logistics related business park and the opportunity to ensure community benefit for residents.
At opening, the terminal will support more than 600 jobs in St. Bernard Parish and 2,500 statewide, along with an estimated $1.3 million in taxes locally and $5.5 million statewide.
With a continued focus on increased capacity and capabilities in 2021, the Jourdan Road expansion project is also well underway in partnership with Lineage Logistics which broke ground in April 2021. This is a $42 million expansion of the Jourdan Road cold-storage facility in New Orleans East. One of two major Lineage facilities at Port NOLA, the cold-storage complex at Jourdan Road along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal will grow from 160,000 square feet to 304,000 square feet and is projected to open in May 2022.
The value-added exports of Lineage Logistics will continue to strengthen Louisiana’s $1.6 billion poultry industry, including nearly 300 commercial broiler producers throughout 11 parishes. This expansion is critical, due to increasing worldwide demand for U.S. poultry. Poultry is consistently a top commodity for Port NOLA moving over 500 thousand pounds in 2021.
The growth of e-commerce and just in time delivery has also created new opportunities to attract distribution and fulfillment centers locally. With Port NOLA’s multimodal access, Louisiana is poised to be a distribution center hub.
Port NOLA signed Memorandums of Understanding with both St. Tammany Corporation and Tangipahoa Parish Economic Development to focus on the need for distribution centers in 2021 to connect the metro region more largely to make a significant impact in attracting these distribution businesses.
The port’s strength as a gateway to the Midwest continues to be a competitive advantage, and its intermodal connections to Memphis and Chicago via the CN and the Dallas Fort Worth market via the KCS continue to attract new importers seeking alternative options. On the inland waterway front, the Seacor-operated barge service that started in 2016 moved close to 30,000 TEUs and services Memphis, St. Louis, Port of Greater Baton Rouge and Port NOLA.
The railroad also continues to see growth, NOPB averaged 914 cars in storage for the calendar year 2021, which was 189 more car stored on average each month by the railroad. Making 2021 a record-breaking year for storagevolumes. NOPB rail volumes increased by over 26,000 rail cars which was 16% increase over 2020.
RESUMPTION OF CRUISES
In the cruise sector, while the ongoing pandemic has impacted the entire industry, there was reason to celebrate in 2021 with return to cruising from Port NOLA. This is a major milestone after cruises were completely shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. River cruises resumed successfully from the Port in March 2021 and ocean-going vessels in September 2021. Carnival was the first to restart ocean-going cruises that have continued to consistently drive business back to the New Orleans market.
With the return of Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line slated for February, Port NOLA is forecasting 285 sailings during the 2022 calendar year and expecting nearly 1 million passenger movements.
Planning for the future sustainably remains a strong focus for Port NOLA with continued success in the Clean TRIP program, which helps local truck drivers reduce emissions from Port drayage activity by upgrading their trucks. The program replaced 18 trucks in 2021 for a total of 76 replacements since 2016.
In June 2021, Clean TRIP was awarded the “Best Community Partnership” from Southeast Louisiana Clean Fuels Partnership.
In 2021, Port NOLA was also awarded a Lighthouse Award of Excellence for Environmental Improvement and Stakeholder Involvement by the AAPA for the Port Inner Harbor Economic Revitalization Plan (PIER Plan).
“Looking ahead, we know that our state’s future economic stability depends on our ability to meet current and future shipping and logistics needs,” said Christian. “As we celebrate our proud maritime legacy during our 125th anniversary, we are also looking ahead to the next 125 years—as we work to provide the next generation of infrastructure.”