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Port of Wilmington leasing deal signed

The agreement leasing operation of the Port of Wilmington to Emirati company Gulftainer is now official.

Gov. John Carney, Diamond State Port Corporation officials and GT USA Wilmington, LLC— a subsidiary of Gulftainer— signed the fifty-year concession agreement Tuesday.

Gulftainer officials say the company will invest more than $580 million at the existing port and build new container terminal at the old DuPont Edgemoor site.

Gulftainer officials expect the changes, which include technology upgrades, to produce over 6000 direct and indirect new jobs over the next 10 years.

Norman Davis is the vice president of the International Longshoreman’s Association local 1694-1. He says training for existing port workers is his top priority.

“A lot of the ILA members, you know some of us have high school diplomas, some of us don’t. Some of us do have college degrees,” said Davis. ”The main thing is that we want to maintain that these stay union jobs, and that we learn the technology, the new technology.”

Gulftainer board chair Badr Jafar says the company plans to create a Ports and Logistics training center beside the new Edgemoor terminal.

“Powered by the latest technology, this center will offer reskilling and upskilling services to ensure that members of the community aspiring to a career in this sector will receive the training and mentorship they deserve,” said Jafar.

The fifty-year lease agreement also dictates Gulftainer pay fees to the state based on cargo volume. State officials predicts the fees will come to around $13 million a year over the next decade.   

Jafar also notes the company’s expected investment of $580 million among the two sites will expand capacity.

“I think with the investment that we’re going to bring and some of the tidying up we’re going to do around the port, we can at least double the throughput in the existing facility over the next ten years, and on the new site we hope to build up capacity of 1.2 million TEUs, … twenty-foot equivalent units,” said Jafar.

Gov. John Carney says the biggest benefit for the state is more “old-fashioned” jobs.

The United Arab Emirates Ambassador also spoke at the signing ceremony— noting the agreement’s impact on diplomatic relations between his country and the United States.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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