Ocean cargo: Port of San Francisco concentrates on bulk

The port is soliciting interest from qualified respondents for developing and operating a bulk marine cargo handling terminal at its underutilized Pier 96.

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The Port of San Francisco, which ceded major container operations to its cross-bay rival, the Port of Oakland, many years ago, is getting back to basics.

“We believe there’s a real chance we can attract iron ore as a bulk commodity for export,” said Jim Maloney, the port’s maritime marketing manager. “The infrastructure is in place, and now all we need is a deal to come together.”

To that end, the port is soliciting interest from qualified respondents for developing and operating a bulk marine cargo handling terminal at its underutilized Pier 96.

The port is seeking to identify one or more qualified maritime cargo terminal operators with a proven capability of designing, financing, developing and operating bulk terminals at other ports who may be interested in expanding into the port of San Francisco market.? 

Characteristics of the Pier 96 site include 15 acres of paved land adjacent to the water, a 40-foot deep-water 1000-foot berth, on-dock rail access at the site and access to the port’s 5-track rail yard.

“The iron ore would come down from Utah or New Mexico via direct rail,” Maloney said. “We looked into coal, too, but determined that there might be too much community resistance to that idea.”

Maloney, who worked for Maersk before coming to the port, noted that San Francisco can still maintain a cargo component in its overall operations if it remains vigilant.

“Just as the ocean carrier lines have been adamantly stating, you really can’t take any revenue stream for granted these days. Ports have to remain aggressive when it comes to developing a comprehensive portfolio of services.”

So far, three bids have come in, said Maloney, and the port commission will determine who will get the exclusive negotiating agreement next month.

“They may agree at that time, or ask us to buy more time in soliciting a deal,” said Maloney. “But it looks like it’s going to happen in any case.”

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at pburnson@peerlessmedia.com.

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