Port of Long Beach
Deputy Executive Director
FTZ No. 50 • 3,230 total acres 80 berths • 621,901 sq. ft. warehouse space • 76-ft. channel
Rail: BNSF, UP, Pacific Harbor Line
Top three export destinations: China, South Korea, Japan
Top three export commodities: Petroleum Coke, Petroleum Bulk, Chemicals
Noel Hacegaba: The Port of Long Beach is big ship ready. Vessels that are too large to pass through the expanded Panama Canal, which is set to open in 2015, are already calling at the Port of Long Beach today, and we’re in the midst of a 10-year capital improvement program to further modernize our terminals and infrastructure. The future is bright, and the future is big.
Our cargo increased year over year 11.3 percent in 2013, which is the third highest in the port’s history. So that puts us back to where we were in kind of pre-recession numbers.
Global Trade: How far along are you on the 10-year expansion?
Noel Hacegaba : We’re in about year two right now, and it’s a $4 billion capital improvement program. The two keystone projects are the replacement of an aging bridge. It’s currently called the Gerald Desmond Bridge; we are rebuilding it just to the north of the existing bridge. That’s about a $1.2 billion project. We’re also building a brand new terminal. We’re converting two aging terminals into one super terminal that is going to more than double capacity, reduce emissions and it’s just going to be cutting edge. It’s going to improve our efficiencies and productivity.
GT: So your port can already handle Post-Panamax vessels?
NH: Yes, actually it’s post-Post-Panamax vessels. Just to give you an idea, the current canal, they’re capped at 5,000 TEU vessels, and when they’re expansion program opens in 2015 it will be capped at 12,500, right? Vessels 14,000 TEUs are already calling at the Port of Long Beach.
GT: At what point did you upgrade cranes and everything? Did you have to dredge the harbor deeper?
NH: Well, we’re fortunate because we have natural depth. Our cranes are, right now, at 14,000 TEUs, they’re at capacity. So in other words, we haven’t had to upgrade our cranes yet, but we will as part of our modernization project that’s in the works.
GT: Is the breakwater there unique?
NH: That’s a good question. I’m not in the position to answer that. I’m not familiar with that part of ports and ports across the country. I know that the breakwater here is important. Obviously it facilitates the passage of the vessels docking at our terminals, but I don’t know, I can’t say that it’s unique to Long Beach.
GT: In what ways are you really competing with the Port of Los Angeles?
NH: We compete for cargo. We collaborate on issues that relate to both ports. We’re considered one complex. We’re known as the San Pedro Bay Complex internationally. We certainly collaborate on issues like the environment. We came together back in 2006 and adopted a cleaner action plan, for instance. Both ports since that time have reduced emissions by 81 percent. We also collaborate on security. It just doesn’t make sense for us to have our own security functions, so our security teams do in fact collaborate. There’s a lot of teamwork in addition to our security partners like the Coast Guard, the local police authorities and so forth, but when it comes to cargo, we compete. We compete fiercely for cargo. Cargo goes back and forth between the two ports; that’s been the trend historically, and we’ll continue to compete for cargo.
GT: What rail lines are coming into the port?
NH: Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, those are the two Class I railroads that provide services here to the ports.
GT: Are those competitive in themselves? Are they serving the same terminals or are they serving different ones?
NH: They compete with one another for business, yes, but they do serve terminals at both ports.