Major change to US container trade?
Bechtel, a US engineering, construction and project management company has laid out plans to redefine the structure of the container trade in the US.
Bechtel have stated they are in discussions with the US government as they look to secure subsidy for an offshore port on the east coast of the country.
They believe the measures they want to implement will reduce overall shipping costs in the US by up to 40%, arguing an offshore port would slash overland transport distances and truncate the need to redevelop existing ports on the west and east coasts.
Bechtel contend that 70% of containers arriving from Asia need to be shipped overland to the east coast where there is the greatest demand. Furthermore, the ever-expanding sizes of container ships means that ports are under pressure to significantly expand their facilities and improve equipment.
Bechtel's ports sector manager Marco Pluijm said: “Currently up to 70% of west coast containers move east by rail and road. If these containers shifted from overland transport to all-water direct import via the Suez Canal to an offshore port, significant savings would be possible."
Pluijm maintains that by constructing a six-berth offshore port where freight is offloaded and then re-loaded onto smaller ships capable of using the existing port facilities on land, both time and costs would be significantly reduced.
Pluijm concluded: "All the economic assessments that we've done indicate that it is better to bring the port to the ship instead of dredging channels and bringing the ship to the port."