Port of Virginia sees record volumes in 2022

January 18, 2023

Count the Port of Virginia as another East Coast port that saw record volumes in 2022.

The port, located in Norfolk, processed more than 3.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units last calendar year, a record for the port as well as a 5.1% increase compared with 2021.

The year-over-year growth came as other East Coast ports, such as the Port of Savannah in Georgia, also experienced record volumes for 2022. Traffic grew at East and Gulf Coast ports in 2022 amid labor-related concerns at the West Coast ports. The continued absence of a West Coast port labor contract is a key culprit for pushing volumes to the East and Gulf Coast ports. The previous contract expired last July 1.

“We made real progress in 2022 and it was another very solid year for volumes,” said Virginia Port Authority CEO Stephen A. Edwards in a Wednesday news release. “Our service and performance levels continue to improve and each quarter our truck, chassis, rail and vessel performance metrics advanced.”

Other metrics showed year-over-year gains: Loaded export TEUs rose 2.5% to nearly 1.07 million while loaded import TEUs grew 2.9% to 1.73 million. 

Edwards said the port authority is investing $1.4 billion to make the port more efficient and technologically advanced, in addition to making it more environmentally friendly. The port seeks to have net-zero carbon emissions for its operations by 2040 through capital projects such as using electrical equipment coupled with power purchase agreements that utilize “clean energy” to produce power.

Other projects include:

• Expanding and modernizing the north berth at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) in order to expand capacity to 1.4 million TEUs. The project will install new ship-to-shore cranes and reconfigure the container stack yard. Phase 1 of the project will be completed in 2025 and the second phase will be completed in 2027.

• Deepening and widening the Norfolk Harbor and commercial channels to safely accommodate fully laden ultra-large container vessels and ensure safe, two-way movement of these vessels. The project should be completed in 2025.

• Expanding the NIT central yard to accommodate 470,000 more TEUs on an annual basis. This project should be completed in 2024 so that the terminal will have an annual rail TEU of 1.1 million while the port will have an annual rail TEU of more than 1.8 million. 

The port is also preparing the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to “become the U.S. East Coast’s logistics hub for the offshore-wind industry” in 2024 by allowing two companies to use the terminal as a staging and preassembly area for an offshore wind farm. 

Meanwhile, December volumes fell at the Port of Virginia amid a decline in U.S. imports. The port processed 273,965 TEUs last month, a 15.8% drop from December 2021. Exported loaded TEUs rose 2.4% to 90,838, but imported loaded TEUs fell 20.2% to 125,725 for the month.

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