Port Canaveral Maps out Future with Clean Fuel



A new business opportunity is on the horizon for Port Canaveral — one that will help the region’s cruise, shipping and commercial space industries grow: Supplying clean fuel.

In fact, the move for ships to use clean fuels is a need the seaport has to fill, Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray said during Orlando Business Journal’s Doing Business in Brevard County event on Aug. 25.

The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations shipping regulatory agency, has a mandate that by 2020 ships will have to burn clean fuel or provide a system for treating their existing exhaust emissions, said Murray during the event.

Cruises and cargo are two ever-growing segments of business that are only going to grow as the port builds larger terminals and upgrades its cargo efficiencies.

“Many cruise ships are being built for natural gas; however, one of the challenges we will have in the future is we will have those [natural gas] ships at Port Canaveral,” said Murray.

But those aren’t the only ships that may be impacted. The region also houses rocket engines that burn natural gas.

“How do we get that fuel to the space business and to ships by 2019 and 2020?” Murray said. “Those demands are staring us in the face, and we are working on those projects right now to figure out how we do that.”

Several big-name space firms already have a presence or plan to partner with Port Canaveral in the future for needed facilities to house and repair rockets, and to serve as the home base for rockets being recovered from sea.

For example, Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has a refurbishment operation at the port. And Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin LLC — which plans to open its $205 million rocket assembly plant in Exploration Park by year’s end — is in discussions for rocket transport needs.

That means Port Canaveral has to get ahead of those space companies’ launch needs or it could begin to hamper the local industry.

The Canaveral Port Authority already has invested in meeting the space industry’s demands. The 246,240-square-foot building in the Titusville Logistics Center — a multitenant industrial complex at 7700 U.S. Highway 1 in Titusville — has one operating tenant thus far: spacecraft structural and thermal-equipment supplier RUAG Space USA Inc.

“The building could be modified and ready to go in a matter of 60 days, depending on what’s needed,” Greg Weiner, senior director of business development for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, previously told OBJ.

That facility, as well as Port Canaveral’s move to provide clean fuel, further enhances the environment the region needs to foster more growth.

In addition, the new $150 million cruise terminal opening by 2019 will pave the way for larger ships to dock at the port. Cruises attract tourists and can encourage longer on-shore vacations in Orlando.

So, any way to continue to encourage cruise companies to find a home at Port Canaveral helps Central Florida overall.

Port Canaveral’s business is booming right now, with revenue on pace to hit $100 million this year. Most of that revenue — more than $61 million from wharf and docking operations — comes from cargo, cruise ships and other uses from clients like SpaceX that have facilities at the port.

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