Crescent Enterprises subsidiary expected to invest up to $600m developing facility
Gulftainer signs 50-year concession agreement for the US Port of Wilmington
The Sharjah ports operator Gulftainer has finalised a 50-year concession agreement with the US state of Delaware to operate and develop the Port of Wilmington. It is one of the largest investments by a UAE company in the country.
The company is expected to invest up to $600 millions to upgrade and expand the port terminal into one of the largest facilities of its kind on the Eastern Seaboard, the company said on Wednesday.
About $400m will be invested in the development of a new 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units container [a measurement of a ship’s cargo-carrying capacity] facility at the Edge Moor complex previously operated by chemicals company DuPont and acquired by the Diamond State Port Corporation in 2016.
The company will “continue to look for attractive investment opportunities in the region”, Badr Jafar, chairman of Gulftainer’s executive board, said at the signing.
“We are confident that this public-private partnership will propel the Port of Wilmington towards becoming the principal gateway of the Eastern Seaboard,” he said.
Gulftainer's investment of $580m in the existing port facilities is expected to generate up to $1.2 billion in economic value for Delaware and will lead to the creation of 6,000 direct and in-direct jobs, added Mr Jafar.
The agreement is Gultainer’s second US venture following its earlier $100m investment in Florida’s Port Canaveral in 2015.
Gulftainer, the UAE’s second largest ports operator after DP World, operates eight terminals in the Middle East with facilities in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. It also runs a facility in Brazil.
The company, which is part of UAE conglomerate Crescent Enterprises, secured rights for investment following a formal review by the US Committee on Foreign Investment, which granted the company exclusive rights to operate the port.
Gulftainer plans to develop cargo terminal facilities and enhance productivity at the Port of Wilmington. There are also plans to establish a training centre to help upskill up to 1,000 people annually in the ports and logistics industries.
The company’s involvement “would result in significant new investment in the Port of Wilmington, which has long been one of Delaware’s most important industrial job centres”, state governor John Carney said.
The agreement gives Gulftainer access to one of the most strategic marine ports in the United States, located four hours from the Atlantic Ocean.
Wilmington Port started operations in 1923 as the first major facility on the Delaware River. It is the top North American port for imports of fresh fruit into the US, and has the largest dockside cold-storage facility in Delaware.
Apart from its 35-year concession agreement to operate the Canaveral Cargo Terminal in Florida, Gulftainer has also provided services to the US space industry, including contracts with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon-owned rival Blue Origin.