PORTLAND, Maine — An Icelandic company has signed a contract with the Maine Port Authority to offer container service out of Portland harbor, expanding access for Maine companies to markets in eastern Canada and Europe.
The Icelandic company, Eimskip, will add Portland as a port of call at the end of March, replacing Norfolk, Va., the company said in a media release Monday. Container ships will call in Portland once every two weeks.
“We are excited by the opportunity this new service offers to Maine businesses,” said John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority, in the statement. “This service offers both increased market access and entirely new market opportunities.”
Portland has had spotty container service in the past, but this is different, said Patrick Arnold, director of operations at the Maine Port Authority.
“This is not a feeder service, and that’s a major difference,” he said Tuesday.
Arnold declined to answer additional questions, citing a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning at the International Marine Terminal.
The agricultural, forest, and seafood industries are expected to benefit most from the service, according to a media release Tuesday from Gov. Paul LePage’s office.
Eimskip will operate a warehouse and office at Portland’s International Marine Terminal, the company said.
The company said its main reason for choosing Portland as a port of call is it is well situated for Eimskip’s liner system in the North Atlantic and suitable for its customers’ needs.
Portland’s newly renovated International Marine Terminal, which is managed by the Maine Port Authority, “is well-equipped to handled the operation,” a statement from Eimskip said.
Eimskip’s presence in Portland is also expected to create jobs and private sector investment, as the city becomes a logistical hub for Eimskip’s North American operations, according to LePage’s office.
“Maine’s economy will be strengthened by this new service and accessibility to markets,” the governor said in his statement. “Maine produces some of the best products in the world and this investment by Eimskip is a testament to that quality.”
LePage met with representatives of Eimskip and Pan Am Railways in January to discuss the new container freight service, the release said. Eimskip will partner with Pan Am Railways to offer cost-competitive access to North American markets.
“We are very excited to be working so closely with Pan Am Railroad [sic] through Portland, Maine,” said Eimskip’s CEO, Gylfi Sigfusson. “Pan Am has been very helpful working with us to make this possible, and we believe that our work together is critical for success moving forward.”
Eimskip, established in 1915, has 49 offices in 17 countries, and operates 17 vessels. It has been sailing to the United States since 1917.