Gulftainer making badly needed investments at port

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Good afternoon everyone,

Gulftainer USA is making good on its commitment to upgrade the Port of Wilmington.

Last year, the Carney Administration and the General Assembly approved a long-term lease of the port to the private company, which is based in the United Arab Emirates.

The OK came despite concerns from fringe elements who questioned Middle Eastern ownership and alleged ties to shadowy characters.

Also offered were bizarre conspiracy theories about smuggling weapons of mass destruction to the port including a missile in a shipping container. Clearly, someone had been watching too many action movies and TV shows.

Gulftainer promised to upgrade equipment and improve efficiency at the port, which typically lost money under state ownership.

The former manager, state-owned Diamond State Port Corp., had to dig deep to find capital for cranes and other equipment needed to keep up with competitors with deeper pockets.

Given the need for funding for everything from schools to roads, the state was hard pressed to add debt to pay for port improvements The port had earlier dodged a bullet when a new port in New Jersey attempted to lure away the lucrative produce business.

Gulftainer announced last week the purchase of “green” electriccranes and related equipment that will lead to cleaner air around the port.

It’s part of a $100 million upgrade that should make the port more competitive.

Next up is work on expanding the port to a Delaware River location at the former DuPont Edgemoor site.

The Edgemoor site is key to the future for the port, since it would be able to handle large container ships. Most of the current port is at the confluence with the Christina River and can’t handle largestvessels that can now travel through a widened Panama Canal.

The ambitiousexpansion is not a certainty in a competitive business. The Edgemoor site does have the advantage of reducing fuel consumption and time for massive vessels that would otherwise travel further up the river.

Without the Gulftainer deal, the Port of Wilmington faced a grim future as an also-ran in a tough but essential business that provides badly needed blue collar jobs with decent paychecks.

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