Port of South Louisiana boasts tonnage record for 2012

06 26, 2013 by The Times-Picayune

The Port of South Louisiana, the largest tonnage port in the country, moved more tons of product in 2012 than ever before, according to the port's recently released statistics. In 2012, the port saw nearly 279 million tons of petrochemicals, food products, building materials and fuel pass through it, breaking its previous record -- 274 million tons in 2011 -- by 2 percent, or roughly 4 million tons.

The biggest contributing factor in the port's increased tonnage in 2012: significant increases in the movement of two of the port's top four commodities. In 2012, the port moved 43.7 million tons of soybeans and 53.3 million tons of petrochemicals, as compared with 34.7 million tons and 50.7 million tons, respectively, in 2011.

"We're all very proud of the port for the continued growth in tonnage, and we look forward to more growth this year," said Port Commissioner Paul Aucoin, who on July 15 will assume the role of executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. Current Executive Director Joel Chaisson is overseas on port business, so Aucoin stepped in as spokesman. "We broke our own record; that's what we're there for."

Since 2009, tonnage passing through the Port of South Louisiana, which spans 54 miles along the Mississippi, has steadily grown, although this year's jump of 2 percent is the most modest in recent years. Between 2009 and 2010, tonnage increased 9 percent; the following year, it increased 11 percent. Still, Aucoin says he anticipates the port to continue to grow as industry is drawn to the banks of the Mississippi, especially in light of a recent expansion expected to encourage an increase of 70 vessels by 2014.

In April, the port unveiled a $19.5 million, 700-foot-long finger pier at the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal in Reserve. The extension will allow the Globalplex to accommodate berths for additional vessels, and will enable barges to moor both on the indoor and outdoor side of the pier, improving efficiency by created easy access for trucks and barges on both sides of the pier.

"The low cost of natural gas and the Mississippi River, there are more and more industrial prospects every day attempting to relocate within our port district; we hear about it on a weekly basis," Aucoin said. "If you can have cheap fuel stock and the river, that's what you want, and we're going to enjoy that."