New acquisitions significantly boost St. James Stevedoring’s capacity

St. James Stevedoring is a midstream stevedore on the lower Mississippi. It operates six midstream ship berths and one barge to land berth between lower Mississippi Mile 121 and Mile 167. With 225 full time employees St. James has sought to position itself as a preferred midstream stevedore with emphasis on safety, customer service, process improvement, environmental responsibility and technological development.

In February 2012 St. James further solidified its position as the operator of the largest fleet of modern Gottwald floating cranes with the christening of its two new Gottwald Model 8 floating mobile harbour cranes. The two new cranes join a fleet that began with the introduction, by St. James, of the world’s first floating Gottwald mobile harbour crane in 2005. The St. James fleet has now grown to eight floating Gottwald cranes.

Named after long term employees Kevin Delaune and C.J. Lebauve, the two newest St. James cranes are the largest capacity floating cranes on the Mississippi River. The Kevin D and CJL feature buckets up to 61 cubic yards and offer a gross lift of 63 metric tonnes at 140 feet radius. The cranes were sized to handle the transfer products such as iron ore and coal between barge and Capesize vessels.

Unique to the Kevin D and the CJL was the decision to include on the cranes the new Schenck Process bulk product weight system. This system has been certified for commercial service in the EU and St. James together with Gottwald Port Technologies and Schenck Process are seeking to have the weigh systems certified for commercial weighing in the United States. The introduction of certified weights into the midstream floating crane industry will provide customers with greatly improved assurance of dry bulk cargo quantities. The addition of the two new cranes at St. James, the addition of one floating crane at Associated Terminals in April 2012 and the floating LMO bulk cargo elevator at Cooper Consolidated September 2011 represented an increase of dry bulk cargo handling capacity at midstream on the Mississippi River of about 12mt (million tonnes) within a period of less than 12 months. This addition of bulk cargo handling capacity was only noticed by the bulk shipping world after the fact when projected ship congestion, particularly in the export coal arena never materialized and record shipments beyond the assumed capacity of the Mississippi occurred without issue. Midstream operators on the Mississippi continue to demonstrate their flexibility and willingness to meet customer and market needs with new equipment and ideas.

Continuing St. James’ efforts to improve services available for the mid-stream shipper, in September of 2012 St. James introduced the first floating coal marine auger sampling system. This marine auger sampling system is a joint project of SGS North America and St. James and was driven by the need to improve both the accuracy of the sample being taken from barges at midstream and the safety of personnel taking the samples. The unit features an auger sampler similar to the augers used throughout the US coal industry to sample trucks and railcars — only bigger. The unique feature is its outreach and ability to auger fully to the bottom of a barge. The system produces a coal size consists as well as performing initial crushing of the quality sample whilst returning 75% of the initial sample back to the barge, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the amount of sample transported to shore and ultimately placed in a land fill disposal site. Additionally the system provides real time temperature measurement and the ability to perform on board moisture analysis of coal. The marine auger sampling system unit which is jointly operated by St. James and SGS has achieved sampling rates of 60,000 tonnes per day.

Technology continues to be a major push at St. James. The use of Crane Data System (CDS) developed by its Harbortelematics System continues to expand around the world providing operators of Gottwald cranes with the ability to monitor production, maintenance and fuel use. The system is approved by Gottwald and provides Gottwald crane users with unique visibility into the operations of their cranes. St. James has instituted a fuel management system using CDS as the alerting device which will save an estimated 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel in 2013.

On another technology front, in 2012 St. James began testing a new prototype barge draught survey device. Initial results are very positive and the ability to provide consistent, recordable and instant data on barge draughts is in the foreseeable future.

Loading ships up to and including Capesize, St. James exceeded the tonnage handled in the entire 27 years of operation during the month of October 2012. The mix of

cargoes has shifted with the economy thought the major products handled continue to be import fertilizer, ores and minerals and exported coal. St. James is anticipating additional growth during calendar year 2013.

In late-December 2012 St. James announced the purchase of its next two Model 8 Gottwald floating harbor cranes. The new cranes are expected to arrive in August and will boost St. James fleet on the Mississippi River to 10 floating mobile harbour cranes including 4 Model 8 cranes.


Port of Corpus Christi: leading the way in wind energy logistics

Port Corpus Christi (POCC) has been generating business and jobs in South Texas for 86 years. Strategically located on the western Gulf of Mexico, POCC is the fifth largest port in the United States in total tonnage. The port provides a straight, 45ft-deep channel and quick access to the Gulf of Mexico and the entire United States inland waterway system. The port delivers outstanding access to overland transportation, with on- site and direct connections to three Class-I railroads, BNSF, KCS and UP, and direct, vessel-to-rail discharge capabilities through Corpus Christi Rail Terminal. The Joe Fulton International Trade Corridor, now fully operational, provides direct, non-congested access to Interstate 37 and Highway 181. POCC is ideally positioned for Global Trade in the South Texas Region.

POCC has some notable projects on the horizon. The US Army Corp of Engineers has authorized the port to deepen the Corpus Christi Ship Channel to 52 feet. However, before diving into a project of that scope, POCC is aiming to strengthen infrastructure. It received federal funding to expand the La Quinta Channel by 1.4 miles to an authorized depth of 41ft. The port is moving forward with the development of the La Quinta Trade Gateway, a 1,100-acre marine terminal designed to accommodate a multi-modal cargo facility. Recognizing the growth of breakbulk and project cargoes, the port identified the necessity to improve rail capabilities and has embarked on a $20 million rail improvement project. The engineering design for the construction of a new rail yard adjacent to the Viola Turning Basin to better serve its customers is in progress. All these efforts open the gate for an increase in trade for the South Texas Region. 

As a leader in environmental awareness, POCC adopted an environmental management system (EMS) in 2004. The port’s EMS is ISO 14001 certified and initiatives include an anti-idling campaign, a port-wide recycling programme, and an annual Gulf Ports Environmental Summit to share ideas on common

environmental issues faced by all Gulf Ports. The port offers more than 125 acres of

open storage and fabrication sites, heavy lift capabilities, more than 295,000ft2 of covered dockside storage as well as a cold storage facility. POCC operates Foreign Trade Zone #122, encompassing 25,000 acres with four active, general-purpose zones and 14 subzones.


After successful participation at the annual American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Conference and Trade Show in the middle of last year, POCC continues to prove one of America’s most important wind energy logistics ports.

POCC has handled wind energy components since 2006 from all top wind manufacturers worldwide with a total of 210 vessel calls and more than $4m in revenue. The first wind farm development to bring POCC into the wind energy industry arena was Papalote Creek in Taft, Texas. The construction of Phase II was completed in 2011. It can produce 380MW of power, enough to serve approximately 115,000 homes. The Papalote Creek Wind Farm has added more than $500m in value to the property tax base of San Patricio County and local school districts.

Apart from its strategic location in the Gulf of Mexico, POCC’s advantages include:

  • short steaming time from Gulf of Mexico;
  • 45ft-deep channel (approved and permitted to 52ft)
  • multiple uncongested berths; v approximately 100 acres open laydown yards;
  • large manufacturing sites available;
  • direct highway/rail access;
  • service from three Class I railroads (BNSF, UP, KCS);
  • dedicated port-owned railroad;
  • direct discharge vessel to rail or vessel to truck;
  • competitive rates;
  • efficient stevedoring services;
  • state-of-the-art security; and
  • FTZ available throughout the port.

POCC has been successful not only in the logistics sector of the wind energy industry, but is also the only port in the US with a wind farm on its property. In February 2011, Revolution Energy, LLC inaugurated the first phase of its ‘Sunrise Wind Farm’ in the north side of the port’s inner harbour. At a cost of $20 million, the wind farm generates 30,000,000kWh/year of clean energy, equal to the electricity needs of nearly 2,500 homes.


Mississippi shipping hits the rocks

The drought situation in the US Midwest could result in barge operations ceasing on a section of the Mississippi river in the early part of this year.

The American Waterway Operators (AWO) and Waterways Council, Inc (WIC) have released a joint statement claiming the situation at Thebes, 125 miles south of St Louis, has reached a point that “suggests that commerce on the Mississippi River could come to an effective halt between January 5 and 15 when the required 9ft draught will fall to an 8ft draught.”

According to AWO and WIC, the majority of tow boats require a minimum 9ft draught to operate and only a “very small number of towing vessels can operate at 8ft or 7ft draughts.” The water level at Thebes is forecast to fall below 9ft. While the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard maintain they will not need to close the Mississippi to shipping, AWO and WIC say the water level will effectively

“preclude navigation because tow boats will be physically unable to transit the area between St Louis and Cairo, Illinois.”

AWO and WCI have been pressuring government agencies to release water from Missouri River Reservoirs to alleviate the situation on the Mississippi, but the Corps. has maintained that there is no legal authority for this without a direction from Congress.

This is the slowest part of the year for Mississippi barge traffic, but AWO and WIC estimate loss of service over the period January 7 to 31 would disrupt the flow of 7.2 million tonnes of commodities valued at US$2.8 billion. “This does not take into account the uncertainty in the supply chain that affected operations during the month of December or any potential economic impacts that will extend into February if the nation’s waterborne superhighway effectively comes to a halt,” the groups added.


Port of New Orleans: unaffected by low water levels in Mississippi
Low water levels in the upper reaches of the Mississippi River are not affecting operations within the Port of New Orleans, as the US Army Corps of Engineers has maintained the Congressionally-authorized 45-foot deep channel on the Lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, La., to the mouth of the River.
“We do not anticipate any interruptions to deep-draught shipping or cruise operations within the Port of New Orleans as a result of the low River stages,” said Gary LaGrange, port president and CEO. “All of the port’s berths are at 100% of their authorized depths and no restrictions on the Lower Mississippi River are anticipated.”

Liquid and dry bulk commodities, which rely on barge transportation, are the primary cargoes concerned with low river levels in the Midwest. These commodities include agricultural products, such as grain and corn, and other bulk commodities, such as chemicals, petroleum and coal. These products are generally shipped in bulk by barge, as river barge transportation is the most economical. These commodities are shipped to the Lower Mississippi River and loaded onto oceangoing bulk vessels at deep-draught terminals. These ocean going vessels can be loaded to full capacity. However, if draught restrictions are placed on inland barge traffic in the Midwest, barge transit would become more costly for growers, producers and manufacturers.

The majority of the private grain elevators, petroleum refineries and coal terminals are located upriver and downriver from the Port of New Orleans’ jurisdiction. The port is a general cargo port handling cargoes, such as containers, steel, palletized natural rubber, forest products, rolled paper and bundled copper and aluminium. These cargoes arrive and depart the port’s terminals primarily by rail and truck, thus there is minimal impact within the Port of New Orleans.

The primary area of concern is stretches of the River between St. Louis, Mo., and Cairo, Ill., where the Corps of Engineers continues to apply all available resources to maintain a navigable nine-foot deep channel for barge traffic. Additionally, Corps contractors are removing rock obstructions from the channel — an estimated 890 cubic yards of limestone from River bottoms — to reduce any risk to vessels during periods of low water. Dredging has also been ongoing since early July to preserve the channel in the Midwest, along with continued channel surveys and patrols to ensure safe navigation throughout the river system.

“We are working closely with the Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard to ensure that all deep-draught facilities along the Lower Mississippi River remain at authorized depths of at least 45 feet and remain open for business for our customers, stakeholders and the shipping community,” LaGrange said.