Aucoin: Port sets tonnage record in ’16

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Port of South Louisiana’s 2016 cargo handling, vessel calls and barge movements exceeded the 2015 record.

Overall cargo handling increased by 1 percent in 2016 (294.9 million short tons) as compared to 2015 (292.7), a difference of 2.2 million short tons. Both vessel and barge calls increased by 4 percent from the previous year’s totals, reaching a tally of 4,578 and 59,780, respectively.

Cargo movement rallied in the latter half of the year (5 percsnt in the third quarter and 4 percent in the second quarter) fueled by the increased demand of grain, particularly corn and soybean. According to AgWeb, crop shortages in South America compelled nations that normally trade with South American countries to turn to the U.S. to meet their demand.

As the largest exporter of grain in the nation, the Port of South Louisiana recorded a 4 percent increase in grain handling in 2016 (49.3 million short tons), with corn (21.4 million short tons) and soybean (23.1 million short tons) logging in a 23 percent and 5 percent increase, respectively.

Primary cargos showed significant increases in overall handling (that is, foreign and domestic trade combined): corn by 23 percent (up to 44.3 million short tons), soybean by 5 percent (up to 47.6 million short tons), petrochemicals by 3 percent (up to 58.4 million short tons) and crude oil by 1 percent (up to 82.6 million short tons).

Steel products also showed an increase by 17 percent (up to 5.0 million short tons). Imports, particularly crude oil and petrochemicals, decreased slightly, but as noted above, overall handling of these mineral fuels increased by 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Other commodities moving internationally via the Port of South Louisiana include chemicals/fertilizers, coal/lignite/coke, and ores/phosphates.

The movement of cargos domestically increased by 4 percent, an increase of 6.1 million short tons to reach the total of 153 million short tons.

The Port of South Louisiana consistently ranks above the ports of Houston, New York/New Jersey, New Orleans, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Long Beach, Greater Baton Rouge and Mobile. In 2015, the Port of South Louisiana ranked first in total trade (292.8 million short tons), imports (75.9 million short tons), and total domestic trade (147.5 million short tons) and second in exports (69.3 million short tons) and total foreign trade (145.3 million short tons).

As the largest tonnage port in the Western Hemisphere — and the 11th largest in the world (2014) — the Port of South Louisiana ranks first in grain exports and foreign trade zone activity and is a top-rated energy transfer port. The Port of South Louisiana handles approximately $60 billion in trade annually, supporting over 30,000 direct jobs (6 of 10) in the River Region, which translates to over 83,000 jobs (1 of 25) in the state of Louisiana.

Regionally, it contributes $1.8 billion in income, $14.4 billion in revenue and $72.5 million in state and local taxes.

The Port’s performance acknowledges the strength and stability of its resident industry and shows that the Port of South Louisiana continues on its mission to promote maritime commerce, trade and development and to establish industrial facilities thereby creating jobs and a stronger tax base.

Paul Aucoin is executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. For more information, call 985-652-9278.