The port of Mobile in the US state of Alabama has started operations of a new $60m- ro-ro terminal including a 3,700 sq m vehicle processing centre (VPC) and storage capacity for 7,000 vehicles.

The facility is being operated by AutoMobile International Terminal (AIT), a joint venture between Argentine operator Terminal Zarate and Neltume Ports, which is based in Chile. The opening of the terminal follows an agreement signed between Terminal Zarate’s owner, Murchison Group, Neltume Ports and Mobile Authorities (ASPA) in January.

The port’s position on the US Gulf coast provides direct shortsea vehicle trade with Mexico, as well as deepsea trade options via the Panama Canal.

The 23-hectare- facility has the capacity to process 150,000 vehicle units per year. The berths are maintained at a 12-metre depth and with a berth length of 457 m, which can accommodate any existing pure car and truck carrying (PCTC) vessel, according to the company.

Roberto Murchison, general manager of Grupo Murchison, said: “We are port operators. For several years we have been focusing on a strategic exercise of growth and diversification. In this case, the association allowed us to export our know-how and experience to a competitive market, as a result of the commercial relationship and the recognition we achieved with most of the automotive companies and international shipping companies that have been operating in our Zárate Terminal for 25 years”.

Richard von Appen, President of Neltume Ports, said: “We are very pleased to participate in AutoMobile International Terminal. For Neltume Ports, AIT represents a very relevant fact, since it is the beginning of our presence in the U.S. port industry.

“In addition, we are very pleased that this beginning is in the Port of Mobile, which has a strategic location and efficient connections to all of North America,” he added.

 “The ASPA is proud to partner with Terminal Zarate and Neltume Ports to provide this new cost-efficient gateway for the automobile logistics industry,” said John Driscoll, director and CEO of ASPA.  

Last month ASPA announced that construction work had begun to deepen and widen the channel feeding the port of Mobile. The US Army Corps of Engineers will carry out a project running to 2025 to widen the channel by 328 metres and deepen it to around 15 metres.

Source: Seatrade Maritime