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Ports & Terminals

Port Newark Container Terminal successful close on tax-exempt bond paves way to future terminal development

In late December 2017, Port Newark Container Terminal LLC (PNCT) secured $298 million in tax exempt bond proceeds that will be used to refinance existing debt and to finance the ongoing development of the terminal.

James Pelliccio, president and CEO, explained the importance of closing the bond deal in December before the start of 2018. “We started the process of negotiating with the bank over the summer [2017] – it was a tight timeline as the tax-exempt bond status was due to expire at the end of the year, so we had to work quickly to get all our ducks in a row.”

Pelliccio said, the tax-exempt bond financing satisfied two main objectives: providing financing for PNCT’s expansion plan to the tune of $124 million and replacing the existing $124 million with a “structure” not requiring LC backing from PNCT’s parents.

Jim Pelliccio
James Pelliccio, president and CEO
The expansion plans for PNCT go back to a 2011 agreement with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ). Under the terms of the agreement PNCT’s “operating control” – essentially the lease – of the terminal would be extended through November 30, 2050. The lease extension requires a capital investment by PNCT of $500 million by November 30, 2029. Since signing the lease, PNCT has spent or committed more than $250 million on capital

improvements and projects, and the group expects to spend an additional $275 million by 2024.

According to Pelliccio, the expansion really is in two phases. The 2012-2017 development added 33 acres, a 25% increase in stacking, the building of a flyover bridge to give direct off road access to the railyard, a doubling of the rail working track to 10,000 feet, the addition of three ULCV capable gantry cranes and numerous upgrades in other handling equipment such as straddle carriers, RTGs, Reach Stackers and Yard Hustlers. Besides the additional equipment, the entire terminal was reconfigured - while in operation. As Pelliccio put it, “it’s like changing a ship’s propeller while underway.”

The current phase will add 47 acres to the existing 263-acre site. In 2017 PNCT had a throughput of 1.3 million TEUs on a capacity of about 1.5 million TEUs, roughly an 87% utilization rate for the facility. The present configuration has 3 berths on a 4,800-foot quay with 40-50 depth alongside. The 2018-2019 development is expected to upgrade 34 acres, adding 50% to the existing stacking area and a new truck gate. Other major improvements include upgrading the wharf to enable PNCT to handle multiple 14,000 TEU size vessels simultaneously. As part of this upgrade, 2,400 feet of wharf will be dredged from around 40 feet to 50 feet to accommodate the larger vessels. In terms of capital equipment, this includes adding 4 additional ULCV gantry cranes and expanding the straddle carrier fleet up to 109 units with 50% capable of handling the 4-high configuration.

Overall the improvements to the terminal will lift PNCT’s capacity to 2.3 million TEUs from the existing 1.5 million TEUs.

George Lauriat
George Lauriat

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