Growing Maine’s Economy: New Container Service to Offer Direct Access to Europe

February 12, 2013

For Immediate Release: February, 12
Contact: Ted Talbot, (207) 624-3030
Director of Communications, MaineDOT

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage announced Tuesday that Eimskip (The Icelandic Steamship Company) has signed a contract with Maine Port Authority to begin operations out of the International Marine Terminal (IMT) in Portland. The Governor met with representatives of Eimskip and Pan Am Railways in January to discuss the new container freight service to Maine’s largest city.

Eimskip’s President and CEO Gylfi Sigfusson, believes that the newly-renovated IMT in Portland presents an opportunity to serve their existing customers and new ones through their unique access to markets in Eastern Canada and Europe. Governor LePage recognizes the potential to grow Maine’s economy and expand the accessibility to Maine products through this service.

“Maine’s economy will be strengthened by this new service and accessibility to markets,” said Governor Paul LePage. “Maine produces some of the best products in the world and this investment by Eimskip is a testament to that quality. I applaud Eimskip and thank them for this great opportunity which enables Maine to share our products with more people while growing our economy.”

The agricultural, forest, and seafood industries will benefit from the expanded service providing Maine businesses new opportunities for growth in Canada and Europe. The service will call on Portland every fourteen days and give Maine businesses direct import/export access to Eastern Canadian and European markets. Additionally, access to these markets can result in both larger freight volumes and access to previously cost-prohibitive markets for importers, exporters and manufacturers alike.

“The Port of Portland is a critical piece of Maine's maritime economy," said Senator Susan Collins. "I am a strong supporter of the federal TIGER grant program, which has helped the Maine Port Authority expand and rehabilitate Portland’s International Marine Terminal. I am so pleased that this federal investment has helped Governor LePage and local officials attract new business to help create jobs and boost the local and state economy. The international maritime shipping service that Eimskip will provide has the potential to open new markets for Maine companies and generate economic growth in our state.”

“We are excited by the opportunity this new service offers to Maine businesses. This service offers both increased market access and entirely new market opportunities,” said John Henshaw, executive director of the Maine Port Authority.” Maine’s congressional delegation has been very supportive of this effort and was key in securing federal investment for the International Marine Terminal in Portland.

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 PanAm Railroad through Portland, ME,” said Eimskip’s Sigfusson, “PanAm 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 will be creating jobs to support their operations at the International Marine Terminal. They also bring the opportunity for additional jobs in trucking and warehousing. It is anticipated that Eimskip’s presence should attract additional private sector investment, as Portland becomes a logistical hub for Eimskip's North American operations. Eimskip brings significant freight of its own, and freight volumes are anticipated to increase as additional shippers utilize the service.

“Transportation in Maine has many faces. While infrastructure is a top priority, our ports continue to be a focus of economic opportunity that helps create jobs,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt. “MaineDOT continues to clear a path for growth in all transportation sectors. This is a great example of Maine being open for business.”

With the successful conclusion of negotiations and contracts, Eimskip will begin container operations at the International Marine Terminal in Portland. Eimskip has 1300 employees in 18 countries and operates 16 vessels in the North Atlantic. Eimskip was established in 1915 and has been sailing to the United States since 1917.