Port cargo passes record

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012



LAPLACE – Bulk cargo passed through the Port of South Louisiana at record amounts in 2011 thanks to large increases in the amount of petrochemicals and fertilizers handled, according to preliminary figures from the port’s annual report.

In all more than 273 million tons of material passed through the port in 2011, breaking the previous record of 263 million tons from 2006. The total represents about an 11 percent increase over 2010 figures, which were about 246 million.

Port Commission President Louis Joseph expects the tonnage number to rise further once fourth-quarter figures from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port arrive. The offshore port ships oil to various facilities within the port’s jurisdiction, which includes the land lining the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes. The Port of South Louisiana covers facilities along 54 miles of river in all three parishes.

According to the report, chemical and fertilizer tonnage traffic increased 84 percent, from about 19 million in 2010 to more than 35 million in 2011. Petrochemicals showed an 8 percent increase, from about 46 million to nearly 50 million.

Joseph explained the increased tonnage reflects the fact that the industrial plants that produce and use them are doing well in light of lower natural gas prices in the state.

Another major contributor to the overall increase was a huge jump in coal, lignite and coke, which increased from 6 million tons in 2012 to 23 million tons last year, a 267 percent increase.

Crude oil, which represents about 22 percent of the total tons handled by the port, showed a decrease of 9 percent in 2011. The port handled about 60 million tons in 2011 compared to 66 million in 2010. Petrochemicals represent about 18 percent of the total tonnage and fertilizer about 13 percent of the total.

Statistics from the Port of South Louisiana reflect similar increases at all Louisiana ports, according to a recent report issued by the World Trade Center of New Orleans. Louisiana exports increased 45 percent during the first three quarters of 2011, when compared to the same period in 2010.

According to the report, exports from the state totaled $39.8 billion, up from $27.4 billion in 2010. The principal export markets include China, Mexico and Japan.

Exports of petroleum and coal products from Louisiana climbed 78 percent during the first three quarters of 2011 to $13.5 billion, reflecting increased global demand. Exports of agricultural products climbed 37 percent.

Total U.S. exports were also up during the first three quarters of this year by almost 18 percent.

The state’s strong export performance during the first three quarters of the year earned Louisiana a ranking of seventh among the nation’s states for export volume. The state was ranked ninth during the same period in 2010.