Port of New Orleans growth on the horizon

Date: Friday, June 1, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 Growth is on the horizon at the Port of New Orleans in various lines of business as it nears completion of its master plan.
   The board of commissioners on Thursday will consider a resolution to adopt the master plan, according to the port’s website.
   The Port of New Orleans has a diverse business mix, which is important, especially with the effects tariffs will have on the volatile breakbulk sector, port President and CEO Brandy Christian said at the Rail Supply Chain Summit in Chicago last week.
   She said that 46 percent of the port’s revenue comes from cargo (50 percent container and 50 percent breakbulk/project cargo).
   The port always has worked with the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a neutral switching railroad for the six Class I railways that call the port, but now that it’s in the port’s mix, she said it comprises about 31 percent of port revenues.
   Meanwhile, the cruise business comprises 16 percent of port revenues, followed by real estate at 7 percent.
   The port is currently the sixth-busiest cruise port in the United States and shows no signs of letting up, she explained.
   Overall, it’s a great time for U.S. Gulf Coast ports because of growth in the petrochemical industry, growth in the South and the distribution presence in the Midwest, Christian explained.

The petrochemical boom. The petrochemical industry is fueling container exports at the Port of Louisiana, with petrochemical exports expected to drastically increase in the next two to three years, Christian said. 
   Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Formosa Petrochemical Corp. last month announced the company selected St. James Parish for a $9.4 billion chemical manufacturing complex.
   Formosa purchased a 2,400-acre site along the west bank of the Mississippi River, Edwards’ office said in a press release.
   Formosa plans to operate the complex under its subsidiary and Louisiana registered company FG LA LLC.
   Pending the completion and approval of permits, FG could start construction as early as next year in what is expected to be a 10-year building and development process in two phases.
   The complex will produce ethylene, propylene, ethylene glycol and associated polymers.

Expanding container operations. Container exports, which comprise 70 percent of container volumes at the port, are driven by petrochemical exports, while common container imports include coffee, as well as furniture, being that Rooms to Go has a distribution center nearby, Christian explained.
   The port’s container volumes have tripled in the last 10 years, with the port moving about 540,000 TEUs last year through its single container terminal, dubbed the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.
   The terminal currently can handle 850,000 TEUs a year and is looking to ramp up capacity even further, eventually being able to handle 1.5 million TEUs.
   Just last week, the port put out an RFP for the purchase of two new 100-foot gantry cranes.
   Meanwhile, the port is also in the process of evaluating a site for a second container terminal down the Mississippi River around mile marker 85.
   The port sat down with ocean carriers and looked at multiple sites up and down the river system and a 675-acre site in St. Bernard was chosen because of its road and rail access.
   Larger vessels are expected to be shifted to the St. Bernard area.
   The port currently is going through the analysis and already has secured financial commitment from the primary investor.
   American Shipper provided in-depth coverage on the potential container terminal in its April magazine feature, “Bayou boom.”

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