Middle East port operator Gulftainer has been nominated to operate and develop the Wilmington Port in the north east state of Delaware in the United States, possibly opening up a new container-loading facility to compete with similar facilities in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Jeffrey Bullock, Delaware’s Secretary of State said in a statement that the Gulftainer’s proposal was the best, and that the company have been selected to negotiate final terms. He said that the Port Corp. expects to finalize the terms of the agreement soon.
At its April 6th meeting, the state-controlled Port Corp. that owns and operates Wilmington’s port is set to vote on the deal.
Gulftainer USA is a logistics company owned by Crescent Enterprises of the UAE. It is in advanced negotiations to construct a new deep-water port in Wilmington.
The company operates huge port facilities in the Brazil and the Middle East. In 2014 Gulftainer signed a 35 year lease to operate the Canaveral cargo terminal port in Florida.
According to the Wilmington News Journal, the company’s managing director Peter Richards recently met with elected officials in Delaware.
Richards in 2016 told Florida Today that the company was looking to expand to a northeastern port or to Oakland, Calif.
Officials of Delaware have not disclosed Gulftainer’s terms of proposal; sources however said that it was one of the two finalists.
A port master plan in 2016 identified a company called Edgemoor as the best option for expanding Wilmington’s access to huge cargo vessels. The port master plan said that the site would require a $493 million investment and 4 years to develop.
Cargo facilities in Wilmington are currently concentrated in more shallow waters on the Christiana River. The port’s search for an expansion partner is nearing completion.
Philadelphia’s PhilaPort’s director of marketing Sean Mahoney said that they are watching Wilmington and seeing how they make out with their solicitation, and wish them the best.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Port handled 6.8 million tons of cargo, including forest products, cocoa, fresh fruits form Peru and Chile, steel, and new vehicles. It also controlled around 500,000 container units.
Previously, the Wilmington port had searched for private investors to develop its facility. However, a 2013 deal to sign Kinder Morgan Energy Partners as the Wilmington port operator collapsed because of uncertainties about the company’s plans.
Leader of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1694, whose members control cargo at Wilmington’s port are said to be wooed by Gulftainer.
President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Rich Heffron said that it is important to talk to stakeholders early on and get them to buy in.