APMT in Talks to Operate New Container Mega-Port on Mississippi

The proposed Plaquemines container terminal (APMT)

Published May 6, 2021 10:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk's port operator APM Terminals has entered discussions with the port of Plaquemines, Louisiana about becoming the operator of the proposed Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District (PPHTD).

The giant Plaquemines terminal plan would cover about 1,000 acres of river frontage on the Mississippi, about 20 miles downriver from New Orleans. Phase One would have the capacity to handle mega-vessels of up to 22,000 TEU in size - far larger than any boxships currenty calling in the United States - with the capacity to expand later if needed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a channel depth of 45-47 feet on the Mississippi River Ship Channel (excepting periodic shoaling), and it will soon begin work to deepen the channel to 50 feet - enough depth for a fully laden Neopanamax, but two feet less than the draft of a 22,000 TEU Megamax when laden to the marks. 

"The appeal of Plaquemines' protected river port location and export/import market strength makes this a very unique supply chain offering for customers and our growth ambitions," said Wim Lagaay, CEO of APM Terminals North America. 

APMT would certainly have access to capital for port construction. This week, Maersk announced the most profitable quarter in the history of its operations, with tight global capacity and strong demand driving freight rates ever higher, particularly on Asia-U.S. routes. The boom is expected to continue, and Maersk announced that it would be hiking its capex plans by an additional $2 billion over the next two years.

“Partnering with APM Terminals to work together on this project is a huge win for the State of Louisiana," said Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District (PPHTD) executive director Sandy Sanders. 

The port project at Plaquemines will include the participation of two additional partners. Louisiana 23 Development Company, LLC (Devco), has rights as the exclusive private development partner for Plaquemines Port. American Patriot Holdings (APH) has an agreement to provide a Jones Act inland feeder service to transport containers upriver from Plaquemines to St. Louis, Memphis, Joliet, Kansas City, Cairo, and Western Arkansas.