Port seeks tonnage credit

Former Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Commissioner Greg Aucoin, left, swears in new Commissioner Joseph E. Cain at Monday’s port commission meeting. (Daily Review Photo by Zachary Fitzgerald)

From left, Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade presents former Port Commission Vice President Greg Aucoin with a plaque for his 15 years of service as a commissioner. At right is Commission President Jerry Gauthier. (Daily Review Photo by Zachary Fitzgerald)

We’re losing (credit for) thousands and thousands of tons because we’re not putting it in a grain barge and running it up and down the river or putting it in a container."
By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

Port of Morgan City officials are working with legislators to make sure oil field ports get proper credit for tonnage passing through them in order to receive appropriate funding for dredging from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Right now, no mechanism exists to measure oil field tonnage, and a new category needs to be created so oil field ports can get credit for pipe, drilling mud or offshore supplies that come through the port, Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said.
Ports receive funding for dredging work in their waterways based on how much tonnage passes through the ports. In 2011, the Port of Morgan City was ranked 119 out of 350 ports in the nation after being ranked 98th in 2009.
“The oil field has been excluded,” Wade said. “We’re losing (credit for) thousands and thousands of tons because we’re not putting it in a grain barge and running it up and down the river or putting it in a container.”
Wade met with Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, Tuesday in New Orleans along with 16 to 18 area business owners to discuss the importance of Morgan City to the state. Vitter is looking into the issues the port has experienced with getting proper credit for tonnage passing through it, Wade said.
Ports receive their rankings based on how much tonnage passes through in containers, Port Commission President Jerry Gauthier said at Monday’s port commission meeting. “We’re not in that world. We’re oil field services. But the value it adds when a Cameron (International) tree, for instance, goes out to sit on the bottom and produces oil back into this economy … is a big deal.” However, the corps has not taken those kinds of things into account when looking at tonnage, but Vitter is trying to change that, Gauthier said.
By next week, port officials should know exactly how much the sidecaster dredge demonstration will cost to test dredging in the Atchafalaya River Bar Channel, Wade said.
The aim of the project is to be able to maintain the congressionally mandated 20-foot depth in the channel.
Jonathan Hird, of engineering firm Moffat & Nichol, said the corps understands the port’s need to borrow a sidecaster dredge from Wilmington, N.C., to test the dredging of the Atchafalaya Bar Channel.
Sidecasting involves agitating the fluff, or pudding-like sediment mixture that accumulates in the channel, through suction and casting it to the side of the channel.
The next step is to develop a budget to fund the initial dredging demonstration for a 90 to 100-day period and progress with the specifications needed to carry out the project, Hird said.
Mike Lowe of the Corps of Engineers said work to place rock along a two-mile stretch on the Crewboat Cut in the Atchafalaya River is ahead of the contract schedule. The schedule had rock work finishing in April, but could finish earlier, Lowe said.
Once the rock work is finished, the corps will dredge a section to remove 350 to 400 yards of sand.
“We’re hoping to be able to get the contract advertised in March and awarded shortly after so we can start the dredging there,” Lowe said.
After the project is complete, the cut will become self-scouring thus saving the port money in dredging costs.
In other business:
—Commissioner Duane Lodrigue was elected vice president of the commission.
—Port Commission Vice President Greg Aucoin retired from the commission after 15 years as a commissioner and Joseph E. Cain was sworn in as a new commissioner. In 2014, Aucoin plans to run for judge in the 16th Judicial District Court, he said.
—The commission also authorized Gauthier to sign the right of entry request from the Corps of Engineers and related landowner agreements.
—The port commission approved a resolution to authorize Gauthier to sign to get a 32-foot Metal Shark vessel using fiscal year 2010 port security grant funds.

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