Over the past three years, the world’s demand for thermal and
metallurgical coals has resulted in coal becoming one of the
primary commodities handled within Kinder Morgan’s terminals
business unit. In 2007, primary coal producing nations that
exported coal around the globe experienced setbacks moving
their coal to the international market. Problems in mining, port
infrastructure, catastrophic flooding, and other serious weather
problems in countries such as Australia, South Africa, Indonesia
and Russia brought increased demand for thermal and
metallurgical coals from the United States. As the demand for
terminal capacity across the United States has increased, Kinder
Morgan has worked diligently with current and new customers to
get coal into the newly active international market. Two of
Kinder Morgan’s major coal terminals, Pier IX Terminal in
Newport News Va., and International Marine Terminal in Myrtle
Grove, La., have seen their volumes increase to full capacity
within two years.
In 2007 and 2008, Pier IX became one of the top performing
terminals in the company’s portfolio of 180 terminals. By the end
of 2008, the terminal had nearly reached its goal of 10mt (million
tonnes) of throughput, ending the year at 9.79mt. This topped
the terminal’s record throughput of 8.59mt set back in 1991.
With a new surge of customers and new higher volumes of
coal moving through the Pier IX facility, Kinder Morgan
management approved $30 million of capital funding to provide
important upgrades to sustain the operations over the long term.
During the past three years Pier IX installed new shuttles,
conveyors and coal chutes, upgraded the railcar thaw shed and
replaced standard coal feeders with mass flow feeders.
This year, Kinder Morgan is in the final stages of replacing the
terminal’s 28-year-old double railcar rotary dumper that was
installed during Pier IX’s original startup in 1982.
This new $6 million rotary dumper and other major
improvements made at the terminal over the past three years
will allow Pier IX to handle an estimated additional 2mt of coal
for its customers.
It will also provide efficient coal terminalling services well into
the next 25 years.
As coal terminals all over the East Coast filled up with
capacity, many producers and overseas buyers looked to coal
terminals along the Gulf Coast to serve their needs.
International Marine Terminal (IMT), Kinder Morgan’s other large
coal export terminal, is located in this region and has seen an
increase in business that will likely push it to full capacity in 2010.
Over the past 18 months, IMT has spent over $2.1 million on
structural improvements and, with the help of new term
contracts with customers, expects to spend a further $3 million
in upgrades by the end of 2010. The capital improvements will
allow for better cross operations of barge unloading and ship
loading that will take this major coal terminal into the 21st
century better than ever before. Of course at both Pier IX and
IMT, as with all Kinder Morgan terminals, there is a commitment
to the safety of employees, protecting the environment and
performing reliability for its customers.
So long as the international coal markets continue to demand
US coal for both power generation and steel production, Kinder
Morgan will continue to explore ways to increase capacity at its
bulk terminals across the United States. The company is already
working with customers to find alternative ways to move coal
through other terminals on the East Coast, Gulf Coast and West
Coast where ocean going vessels have good ability to load coal
for utilities and steel mills in Europe, South America and the Far