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Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Port of Charleston Posts Record Month, Approves FY06 Budget

Plan Calls for $159 Million in Improvements

Charleston - On the heels of an all-time record month, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) Board has approved the fiscal year (FY) 2006 financial plan and adopted a $159-million capital improvement plan to boost operational efficiencies and security.

May was an all-time record for container traffic through the Port of Charleston. Box volume for the month totaled 182,214 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), a 12% increase over the same month last year and eclipsing the previous one-month record set in October 2004. Fiscal year-to-date, volume is up 14%.

“Demand for services through the Port of Charleston is obviously solid,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the SCSPA. “Beyond growth in China trade, there's strength in the Latin American, Indian and trans-Atlantic markets.”

In the FY06 financial plan, the SCSPA's operating revenues are projected to top $145.8 million and container volume is forecast to increase 6%.

“This year's budget places the Ports Authority in a strategic position to continue handling cargo more efficiently for our customers,” said Groseclose. “We're allocating significant capital to new equipment and enhancements at existing facilities.”

Major projects in the two-year, $159-million capital plan include:

$42 million for improvements to container yards
$31 million for four new container cranes
$22 million in container handling equipment
$20 million in security enhancements

The SCSPA is focused on controlling expenses and disposing of under-performing assets. The FY06 plan holds the growth of operating and administrative expenses to less than 2%, adding 10 new positions in operations, Port Police and administrative areas.

“Solid financial performance is essential to both our near-term and long-range developments,” said Groseclose.

The SCSPA has two major port development projects underway, including a three-berth, 280-acre container terminal in the Port of Charleston and proposed development of a new container facility on the Savannah River in Jasper County.

Twenty-one ocean carriers and terminal operators responded to a request for expressions of interest in the projects. Informational meetings are underway and preliminary responses are due by August 1. A formal request for proposals will be issued this fall.