The nation's expanding shale gas and oil markets fueled the recent opening of a new bulk liquid marine terminal in North Charleston.

Laurence W. Odfjell, executive chairman of Norway's Odfjell SE, said there's a growing need for additional U.S. gateways because shale gas is transforming energy and petrochemincal markets.

"This emerging opportunity is one of the reasons why we are here," Odfjell said Wednesday.

He added that the North Charleston terminal "was conceived before we really knew the full extent of what the shale gas was coming on. But now that the shale gas revolution is upon us, we are here to serve our customers."

The natural gas that's extracted from within shale formations has been a booming market for energy companies across the nation.

Odfjell was on hand to help mark the opening of the Odfjell Terminals Charleston at 1003 E. Montague Ave., a former "brownfield" area on the banks of the Cooper River.

"We are opening a new gateway to the East Coast of the United States," Odfjell said.

The Scandinavian company has invested $84 million investment in the former cement port it bought in 2011. The 20-worker operation will serve as a Southeast distribution site for the bulk liquid chemical, vegetable oil and petroleum industries.

The terminal, also known as OTC, has one deep-draft ship dock and is accessible by rail and road.

Last year, Odfjell signed a letter of intent to purchase its next-door neighbor Chem-Marine Corp. in a deal valued at less than $10 million to extend its working waterfront. Chem-Marine controlled a 25-acre site with about 850 feet of waterfront to the north.

Started in 1914, Odfjell is one of the pioneers of chemical tanker trade. The Scandinavia-based company owns and operates tanker ships and ports around the world.

The North Charleston facility is the 12th terminal for the company, which also has marine operations in Houston and numerous countries overseas.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Odfjell is a "team in the community," as it builds on local revitalization efforts.

"It has been wonderful watching this coming out of the ground, taking a place that had lost a lot of its opportunities and we're bringing that opportunity back," he said.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or Twitter @TyrichardsonPC.