The Port of Portland announced Monday that it has negotiated an end to the 25-year lease agreement covering Terminal 6, its sole container facility.
Philippine port operator ICTSI will pay the port authority $12 million and transfer back an additional $10 million in equipment that it acquired when it began managing the terminal in 2011. The port authority's board of commissioners will still have to approve the arrangement, and if the deal is finalized, ICTSI will hand over the terminal's operations on March 31.
Oregon governor Kate Brown responded positively to the news. “Container service is key to our trade-dependent economy, and I am confident the Port of Portland will take advantage of this opportunity to re-establish a crucial lifeline to rural Oregon and businesses across the state,” she said in a statement.
ICTSI’s facility has struggled for years. Portland was never a serious contender for West Coast container import volume, but Terminal 6 was once a valuable resource for Oregon's exporters, notably its farmers. Soon after ICTSI took over, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union contested the right of unionized port electricians to plug and unplug reefer containers, and it began a series of legal actions and work slowdowns that allegedly interfered with the port's operations. Carriers gradually took their business to other ports, and in May of 2016 the terminal lost its sole remaining service. Trucking boxes to ports out of state is estimated to cost Oregon's exporters millions of dollars per year.
In a statement Monday, Port of Portland executive director Bill Wyatt suggested that the cancelation of ICTSI's contract was the best way for the port to attract a new container service. The longtime port director is set to retire in June, shortly after the agreement will take effect; the commission has not yet named his successor.