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Tulsa's Port of Catoosa Shipping Levels Back to Normal After `Katrina'

Wed, 01/25/2006 - 1:07am
Nancy Syverson

From Logistics Management magazine

Tulsa's Port of Catoosa officials said shipping activity is approaching normal levels after Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans last year.

The hurricane not only lashed New Orleans' harbor - where most of the Port of Catoosa's inbound goods originate - but it also increased energy and barge transportation costs, said Steve Kissee, chairman of the City of Tulsa-Roger County Port Authority.

Shipping tonnage totaled 1.8 million tons in 2005, down from 2.2 million tons of cargo in 2004. That represents a 22 percent drop.

Port figures show total tonnage at the Port of Catoosa dropped from a high of 198,824 in March to only 126,000 in September after the hurricane hit. In August 2005, inbound and outbound tonnage totaled 161,866, a 59-percent drop from the 258,000 tons shipped in August 2004.

"Katrina seriously disrupted the flow of barges needed to carry grain and other commodities on the Mississippi River and the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation system," Kissee said.

"As the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge make necessary repairs to their infrastructures, shipping is returning to normal. We now have a substantial fleet of barges in our harbor. With new waterway users coming on line, we foresee a much better shipping year in 2006."

In December, shipments of inbound steel and pipe, molasses, dry fertilizer and caustic soda were up, the port authority said. Outbound shipments of project cargo, soy products, liquid fertilizer and miscellaneous grain were down, and outbound gypsum and wheat were up.

About 131,000 tons of cargo in 88 barges were shipped to or from the Port of Catoosa in December, compared to 138,000 tons in 84 barges in November and 187,000 tons in 107 barges in December 2004.

December's outbound shipments came to 56,000 tons in 36 barges, compared to 76,000 tons in 44 barges last month. In 2004, 116,000 tons were carried out of the port in 49 barges.

A total of 991,000 tons of cargo were shipped on the entire McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in December, compared to 1.1 million tons in November. In December 2004, 953,000 tons were transported. About 13 percent of the December total passed through the Port of Catoosa.

Port officials said the Oklahoma segment of the McClellan-Kerr reported 380,000 tons in December, up from 363,000 tons shipped in November.

Since the port opened in 1971, the facility has served 34,000 barges carrying 55 million tons of cargo.

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