Port wants to maintain proper depth

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

CHARENTON — Representatives of the Port of South Louisiana, led by Executive Director Paul Aucoin, recently participated in Ports Association of Louisiana’s 33rd annual conference in Charenton.

This year’s LA Ports are Bridges to the World conference was marked by discussions on dredging of Louisiana’s waterways, the condition of the state’s transportation infrastructure and the status of the oil and gas industry.

As of late, high water and depth restrictions have brought to the forefront the significance of maintaining proper waterway depth, particularly that of the Mississippi River, for the economic health of the state and nation. According to economic estimates, the Mississippi River and its tributaries have over a $200 billion annual impact on the U.S. economy.

As Sean Duffy of Big River Coalition stressed during the conference, it all starts with funding from the federal government.

“We have ourselves a 10,000-pound gorilla and not enough bananas,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany said securing federal funding for dredging is his top priority.

“This issue is critical to Louisiana’s federally maintained ports and to not dredge these waterways impacts regional and national commerce, affects Louisiana job growth and reduces our economic competitiveness,” Boustany said.

A healthy infrastructure in Louisiana is imperative, especially when five Louisiana ports rank within the largest 11 tonnage ports in the United States. As presented by Dr. James Richardson, one in five jobs are attributable to trade-related industries.

Louisiana is in its 15th consecutive month of low crude oil prices, said Don Briggs, President of Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.

The demand for oil cannot keep up with the surplus worldwide (2.6 billion barrels per day), lowering prices and causing mass layoffs.

Thus far, 10,000 jobs have been lost in Louisiana.

In turn, health care, education and the transportation system have been negatively impacted.

Louisiana is grappling with a $1.9 billion deficit looking into 2017 and many feel things will get worse before it gets better unless members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reduce production, thereby giving prices a chance to rebound. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as presented by Emile Dumesnil, President and CEO of Dynamic Energy Services International.

Iran’s stored oil, for instance, is at an all-time high: Iran is set to add 1 million barrels per day into the saturated oil market for a projected global total of 3.2 billion barrels per day by 2017.

Dumesnil believes a rebound may be in site in 2018.