Ports America to operate new Nova Scotia mega-terminal

by Sonia Straface

SYDNEY, N.S. —  In mid-December, Ports America and Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP) announced they had reached an agreement to work together to promote, develop and manage Novaporte – a planned mega-terminal – in the Port of Sydney.

The project, which has generated a lot of buzz recently, is set to be the first deepwater, semi-automated port on North America’s East Coast that will be designed to accommodate the largest container ships in the world. To date, the port project has all permits in place and is shovel-ready, according to Albert Barbusci, a founding partner of SHIP and port developer. According to the deal, Ports America is set to manage and operate the 500-acre terminal for 40 years. It is the largest US terminal operator, with operations in 42 ports and 80 terminals. And SHIP is thrilled to sign it on to operate Novaporte.

“We had met with a number of operators and we settled on Ports America because they were the most strategic fit for us given that our gateway would be a North American one, and we wanted the strongest and largest operator,” Barbusci said. “So we’re very excited to have them on board. They’re global leaders.”

“Novaporte is a uniquely located deepwater port able to handle the largest of the next generation of ultra-large container vessels,” said Peter Ford, chief strategy officer at Ports America in a news release. “Geographically, it is the first stop for vessels on the Great Circle Route from Europe and Asia via the Suez. It has abundant land, an adjacent 1,200-acre logistics park and is located in a foreign trade zone. Add to that abundant power, road and rail, as well as a skilled workforce, and you have the makings of an East Coast gateway for the next generation of super ships.”

Construction on Novaporte is estimated to take two years, added Barbusci, but it won’t likely begin until 2018. Novaporte has to secure a minimum volume commitment before construction can officially begin.

“If all goes well, we’ll be putting a shovel into the ground in 2018 and we’ll be up and running in 2021,” he estimated.

Not only has SHIP secured its operator but it also received support from former Prime Minister Jean Chretien who is the project’s international advisor. The project received endorsements from Canadian municipal, provincial and federal government officials, while funding for the construction part of the project is coming from both Canadian and offshore investors.

“Most recently, the local First Nations in Nova Scotia also announced they fully support our project and are aligned with us,” said Barbusci. “Which is also terrific.”

In the meantime, going into 2017, Barbusci said SHIP is ready to complete the design work for the project and continue to focus on working with Ports America and securing customer volume commitments.

“For Ports America to make the move to join forces with us and see the Sydney Harbour as the perfect location to create this gateway…it’s just the most exciting news Cape Bretoners have received in a long time. We could have had any operator join us, but to have Ports America, it’s like winning the lottery,” Barbusci said.

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