Increase in Tonnage 2023

Infrastructure improvements have allowed for a significant increase in tonnage moving through the Port of South Louisiana.

The Port of South Louisiana is not only a major throughway for the import and export of goods, but also a main economic driver for the state. With some recent improvements to infrastructure, the Port is now able to contribute even more to economic development and job creation in the River Parishes and beyond.

“More than 60 percent of the nation’s grain moves through the Port of South Louisiana,” said Brian Cox, chief operating officer for the Port of South Louisiana. “We have seven of the nine grain elevators in Louisiana, three major refineries, over 30 pipelines and 60 dock operations on the 54-mile stretch of the Mississippi River.”

Increasing Capacity

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According to Cox, total tonnage at the Port of South Louisiana increased by 4 percent in 2022 , up from 2021 throughput — the biggest increase since 2018. 

Several industries are currently contributing to the increase in tonnage at the Port of South Louisiana. “Unmistakably, Port of South Louisiana’s grain and petrochemical partners are the prime contributors to the growth: animal feed (29 percent); wheat (20 percent); crude oil (16 percent); petrochemicals (15 percent); and soybeans (14 percent),” Cox said. “Also, the movement of coal/lignite/cole (2 percent), concrete/stone products (111 percent) and ores/phosphates (3 percent).”

On average, the Port of South Louisiana receives 3,500 vessel calls and 55,000 barge movements annually. “In 2022, 3,502 vessels and 54,611 barges were serviced at the Port of South Louisiana,” Cox said.

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Recent infrastructural improvements have further enabled the Port to increase both its imports and exports. For example, the Port added two new state-of-the-art Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 Portal Harbor Cranes, which were christened at the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal Dock in August 2022.  This is a big deal. 

“Tonnage has increased by approximately 75 percent with the increased capacity of these cranes,” Cox said. “What this means is that ships get loaded or unloaded in less time. The ship is in berth for a shorter period of time, which lowers dockage and operating costs to the vessel owners and shippers. This translates to lower costs to the end-user when the products are moved quickly, safely and efficiently.”

Partners in Growth

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Strategically located at mile posts 138.5 and 138.6 A.H.P. in Reserve, the Port of South Louisiana’s public terminal, Globalplex, features deep draft bulk and general cargo docks designed for highly efficient dockside transfers between ship, barge, truck, and/or on-dock laydown and staging areas. 

Associated Terminals, the leading stevedoring and terminal operator on the Lower Mississippi River, is the exclusive operator of Globalplex. The company first became involved with the Port of South Louisiana in 2000 when it partnered with Stevedoring Services of America to provide crane power at the Globalplex Terminal. 

Five years later, Associated Terminals acquired SSA’s position at Globalplex and entered into an agreement with the Port of South Louisiana to become the exclusive operator at the 335-acre intermodal terminal. This past year alone, Associated Terminals has handled more than 1.5 million tons through the Globalplex terminal.

“We provide a comprehensive range of value-added services, which allows us to offer complete cargo movement solutions for our customers,” said Todd Fuller, president and co-owner (along with Gary Poirrier) at Associated Terminals. “Our team of highly skilled and experienced professionals, and our top-quality equipment, allows us to deliver the most efficient solutions for our customers handling over 30 million tons of cargo annually. The two Konecranes gantry cranes perform operations on the dock and pier. Globalplex further features a finger pier, built in 2013, and a multipurpose dock.”

According to Fuller, the addition of the two Konecranes gantry cranes has allowed Associated Terminals to increase its total tonnage by a large margin. “From 2019 to 2021, the average tonnage was approximately 1 million tons,” he said. “In 2022, approximately 1.3 million tons were moved at Globalplex, which was a 30 percent increase. [Also last year,] Associated Terminals alone transloaded cargo from 355 oceangoing vessels across the Port of Louisiana jurisdiction at 10 transloading facilities. The company handled 36 oceangoing vessels at the Globalplex dock specifically.”

A shift in some of the cargo trade and dynamics have occurred over the past year and may continue in years to come. “Cementitious cargoes have become a major import into the region and across the United States by the recent LNG facility construction and potential infrastructure improvement demand,” Fuller said. “Further to this particular commodity, the push to more greener fuels has created opportunities for companies to expand their bio-fuel capacity. This process increases more animal feed proteins for export opportunities.”  

Economic Success

Movements of cargoes through Globalplex and the Port of South Louisiana’s jurisdiction correlates to more jobs and indirect benefits to the local economy through vendors and service providers needed to facilitate cargo operations. Due to the increase in tonnage moving through the Port, a number of new jobs have been created, including five new equipment operators, four new crane operators, two new supervisors, and approximately 10 deckhand and support staff.

“We take extraordinary pride in operating two out of the five ports on the Lower Mississippi River, as the river is an outstanding resource for the economy,” Fuller says. “In Louisiana, one in five jobs are connected to the river according to the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In addition, maritime employees make a collective $3.5 billion annually in income in Louisiana.”

Led by CEO Paul Matthews and governed by a board of nine commissioners, the Port of South Louisiana is one of the most prominent tonnage port districts in the Western hemisphere. “Since 2000, we have been privileged to work with the Port to grow and expand at Globalplex and our footprint within the Port’s jurisdiction,” Fuller says. “We partnered with the Port of South Louisiana to reach substantial economic success, and we are thrilled that the Port is ranked  number one in domestic trade, number two in total foreign trade imports and number three in exports. The Port accounts for 15 percent of United States exports and 57 percent of Louisiana exports.”

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