Muscat: Gulftainer, the largest privately-owned independent port operator in the world, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced that its subsidiary GT USA has inked an agreement on terms with the State of Delaware, USA, which would grant GT USA exclusive rights to operate and develop the Port of Wilmington for 50 years.
Terms of the agreement are to be formally approved by Diamond State Port Corporation Board and the Delaware General Assembly within the next month, followed by the formal review by the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
The new agreement provides Gulftainer access to one of the most strategically located marine ports in the US, situated only a four-hour voyage from the Atlantic Ocean. GT USA’s concession includes the full management and development of the Port’s existing container volumes of 350,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year, which is forecasted to more than double in the years to come as a consequence of this deal.
Notably, Wilmington Port, which started operations in 1923 as the first major port on the Delaware River, is the top North American port for imports of fresh fruit into the USA, and has the largest dockside cold storage facility in the Country.
Over the next nine years, Gulftainer is planning to invest $580 million in the port, including approximately $410 million for a new 1.2 million TEU container facility at DuPont’s former Edgemoor site, which was acquired by the Diamond State Port Corporation in 2016. During this period, the company will fully develop all the cargo terminals capabilities and enhance the overall productivity of the port.
The landmark agreement on terms follows over a year of negotiations and an evaluation of Gulftainer’s capabilities globally, including in the USA. Within the USA, the Company currently operates the Canaveral Cargo Terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida, after winning a 35-year concession in 2015. As part of these operations, the company has also been providing services to the US Space Industry, including contracts with SpaceX and Blue Origin.
John Carney, Governor of Delaware, emphasised: “With Gulftainer’s proposal, we have an opportunity to develop the overall infrastructure and potential of the port, which can lead to a direct and significant impact on our economy as a whole.”
He added, “We hope to see significant impact to the state’s revenue stream with the planned injection of $580 million investment into the cargo facilities within the city of Wilmington. This massive infrastructure upgrade will have a knock-on effect to the logistics sector of the entire East coast. It is also exciting to see that Gulftainer’s proposal included a plan to establish a Marine training institute to boost local career aspirations in maritime industry and port operations.”
Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Chairman of Gulftainer’s Executive Board, said: “For over 40 years, and as the oldest container operator in the Gulf Region, Gulftainer has been at the forefront of transforming port and logistics operations across four continents. We are honoured and excited to extend this experience and capabilities to the Port of Wilmington, as we continue to pursue a strong growth trajectory in the USA.”
He added: “Gulftainer looks forward to be given the opportunity to work closely with the State of Delaware authorities to achieve significant enhancement across the board, from infrastructure development and capacity building to creating a sustainable source of employment and overall economic growth. We are keen to position Wilmington as the major gateway port to the US Mid-Atlantic states.”
GT USA will also establish a training facility at the development site specifically for the Ports and Logistics industries that is expected to train approximately 1,000 people every year.
Jeffrey W. Bullock, Secretary of State of Delaware, noted: “We expect to leverage Gulftainer’s strategic expertise in terminal operations to transform the Port of Wilmington, during the 50-year lease period, into the best facility of its kind in the region.”
For his part, Peter Richards, Group CEO of Gulftainer, said: “At Gulftainer, we see enormous opportunity to add value to the port infrastructure in the US and are excited to expand our operations within the country. The Port of Wilmington has for decades handled important gateway cargo that supplies the entire nation. Our plan is to build on this foundation and take the operations to new heights by working closely with each of the stakeholders within its ecosystem. With projected volume growth more than doubling in under a decade, doubling the revenue to Delaware state, a brand-new terminal at Edgemoor and a possibility to create around 12,000 jobs, this project is likely to become one of the biggest success stories in the US ports sector.”
Currently owned and operated by the State of Delaware, the Port of Wilmington is a fully serviced deep-water port and marine terminal, strategically located on 308 acres at the confluence of the Delaware and Christina Rivers.
Established in 1976, Gulftainer is a privately owned, independent port management and 3PL logistics company based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). For more than 40 years Gulftainer have sustained a world-class operations standards, covering cities such as the Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) and the Sharjah Container Terminal (SCT), as well as sustaining an international presence which spans across the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas with projects in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Brazil and the USA.