A report card of sorts is out, and the Port of Wilmington has earned high marks.
A 2022 technical report, the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), looks at data from 348 container ports around the world and compares them on the basis of productivity. On the global scale, Wilmington ranks 44th. Among all ports in the U.S. and Canada, it comes out on top.
“The way they measure productivity is based on the amount of time vessels spend in port to complete their workload,” N.C. Ports spokesperson Elly Cosgrove said Tuesday.
From 2021 to 2022, the Port of Wilmington moved up three spots on the rankings of North American ports, leapfrogging the Port of Virginia, the Port of Miami and the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which led the 2021 list. On the global list, Wilmington moved up five spots from its 2021 ranking of 49th.
“This latest achievement is a testament to the dedication of all North Carolina Ports employees and stakeholders and their unwavering commitment to keeping goods and cargo moving,” said Brian Clark, executive director of the N.C. State Ports Authority, in a news release. “It is also proof that our critical infrastructure improvements have allowed us to maintain our best-in-class vessel productivity, exceed industry standards, and deliver on our mission to enhance the economy of North Carolina.”
These capital investments would not have been possible without the support of partners at the local, state and federal levels, as well as funding from the North Carolina General Assembly, Clark added.
That support has led to significant investments over the past five years, during which time N.C. Ports has invested more than $356 million in infrastructure improvement projects at its facilities, including a new container gate complex, container yard expansion, turning basin expansion and harbor deepening, and berth renovation and expansion.
“These enhancements allow N.C. Ports to maintain top-tier landside and waterside efficiencies and better meet the needs of an increasing customer base,” Clark said in the release.
Enhanced storage capabilities add to the port’s efficiencies as well, Cosgrove said.
“We are in the process of expanding our ‘Reefer Yard,’ which are the racks that store refrigerated containers,” she said. “We are really excited that this line of business is growing as it helps us better support the state's agricultural stakeholders as North Carolina Ports has become a critical gateway for the movement of refrigerated cargoes. This project is another key component of N.C. Ports' capital improvement plan aimed at enhancing the efficiency at the Port of Wilmington.”
The N.C. State Ports Authority had forecast that container business would make up 47% of the Port of Wilmington's revenue and 35% of the total NCSPA's revenue for FY 2023, which ends June 30. Its projections for FY 2024 show container business making up 50% of Wilmington's and 37% of the total NCSPA budgeted revenue, Cosgrove said. This shipping segment continues to be very strong.
This is the third year that the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence have teamed up to analyze how container ports compare in terms of efficiency. The global Container Port Performance Index is designed to be a reference point for key stakeholders in the global economy – from national governments to operators of supply chain services – according to the report. It not only compares ports and recognizes the quality of each one’s performance, but also identifies gaps in performance and opportunities to improve.
The data used to compile the CPPI is from S&P Global’s Port Performance Program, launched in 2009. The program includes 10 of the world’s largest liner shipping companies that collectively operate close to 80% of global fleet capacity.
“With consistent, best-in-class productivity and service levels, more industry sectors are taking advantage of the Port of Wilmington’s role in their supply chains,” Hans Bean, the N.C. State Ports Authority’s chief commercial officer, said in the release. “They do it both to enhance their overall logistics performance and to optimize networks for future growth.”
NOTE: This version of the story adds information about the percentage of the Port of Wilmington's revenues container cargo represents. It also corrects Hans Bean's title to “chief commercial officer.”