By KEN MAMMARELLA
Special to Delaware Business Times
The board of directors of the Diamond State Port Corp. voted unanimously on Friday to approve a preliminary agreement to lease the Port of Wilmington for 50 years to GT USA Wilmington, LLC, a new Delaware subsidiary of Gulftainer.
Many of the roughly 500 attendees came to hear about Gulftainer’s commitments to job retention and creation, particularly union jobs.
The presentation revealed new details of Gulftainer’s plans, which must be approved by the General Assembly.
The new facility at the old DuPont Co. Edge Moor site will cover containerized shipping, which means it fits into the current Coastal Zoning Act. The port will not serve liquefied natural gas.
Gulftainer is in talks with Harvey Hanna, which owns the old GM Boxwood Road site, about developing an inland port. Peter Richards, CEO of Gulftainer, discussed the possibility of freight and warehouse facilities at the Boxwood site.
Diamond State, a corporate entity of the state that owns and operates the port, and Gulftainer are also looking at the Pigeon Point and River’s Edge sites nearby. Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said the state will ensure that nearby infrastructure, such as I-495, will be able to handle the growth.
Richards ended his presentation by addressing concerns about Gulftainer’s corporate base in the United Arab Emirates. “I object to people lying about us,” he said. “I can’t believe people can be so simple-minded to believe the trash out there.”
Gulftainer has been vetted through a nine-month screening process by seven federal Cabinet departments and a dozen federal agencies. The corporation is not, Richards insisted, involved in terrorism, dirty money or Russia.
There was at least one dispute among presenters about the role of technology at the port.
Richards stressed that automation is necessary to make the port the best on the Delaware River. In response, William B. Ashe Jr., vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, said “it will not be an automated port. Everything will be monitored” by a person.