Aucoin: Port passes 300 million ton mark

Published 7:10 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Port of South Louisiana set an unprecedented cargo-volume record in 2017, surpassing 2016’s tonnage of 294.9 million short tons by 4.4 percent.

The district’s total tonnage increase was propelled, in particular, by the handling of Coal/Lignite/Coke, which more than doubled (123 percent).

Movement of Steel Products (41 percent), Chemicals/Fertilizers (6 percent), Crude Oil (4 percent), Petrochemicals (4 percent) and Ores/Phosphate Rock (2 percent) also showed significant increases.

Total tonnage for 2017 was over 307.8 million short tons, 12.9 million short tons more than in 2016. Both vessel calls and barge movements in the Port district increased in 2017 to 4,589 and 65,490, respectively.

Exports were over 71.7 million short tons, while domestic trade exceeded 160.1 million short tons, representing increases of 6 percent and 4.2 percent respectively compared to 2016 trade.

The 4.1 million short ton growth in export trade was aided primarily by commodities such as Chemicals/Fertilizers (85 percent), Coal/Lignite/Coke (84 percent) and Crude Oil, of which exports of the latter were over six times that of last year (509 percent).

As the largest exporter of grain in the nation, the Port of South Louisiana handled 46.6 million short tons of grain in 2017, with soybean (21.5 million short tons) and corn (20 million short tons) logging in as the top two exported grains. Imports also increased by 2% from the handling of cargo like Steel Products (108 percent), Petrochemicals (5 percent), Ores/Phosphate Rock (2 percent), and Crude Oil (1 percent).

The Port of South Louisiana handles approximately $67 billion in trade annually, supporting over 30,000 direct jobs (6 out of 10) in the River Region, which translates to over 83,000 jobs (1 out 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 of South Louisiana consistently ranks above the ports of Houston, New York/New Jersey, New Orleans, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Long Beach, Greater Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, and Mobile, making it the largest tonnage port in the Western Hemisphere.

It ranks first in grain exports, second in foreign trade zone activity and is a top-rated energy transfer port. In addition, according to a new report by international shipping magazine Fairplay, the Port of South Louisiana was ranked 16th in the world.

Of the nearly 5,000 ports, the Port of South Louisiana is the only U.S. port that ranks in the top 20 ports in the world!

In light of that report, I was very pleased to see the Port of South Louisiana increase its tonnage, vessel and barge numbers by such an impressive amount and look forward to another good year.

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