Container shipping has potential to expand on deepened Mississippi
THE importance of the Mississippi River in container shipping is rising amid plans to deploy larger vessels once the lower section of the river is dredged to 50 feet
THE importance of the Mississippi River in container shipping is rising amid plans to deploy larger vessels once the lower section of the river is dredged to 50 feet.
In 2017, some 552 million tons of cargo moved on the Mississippi river, up from 526 million tons in 2016 and 521 million tons in 2015, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The Mississippi connects the Gulf of Mexico with America's heartland, as well as various tributary rivers that play a key role in shipping. Major cities along the Mississippi river include New Orleans, Memphis, St Louis, Minneapolis and St Paul.
The river has an estimated US$735.7 billion annual impact on the nation's economy and is responsible for 2.4 million jobs, according to Big River Coalition, which represents commerce across the Mississippi river and its tributaries, reported American Shipper.
A November 2017 study conducted for the National Waterways Foundation and the US Maritime Administration by the Universities of Tennessee and Vanderbilt found that 10 million tons of corn and soybeans transit the lock down-bound for export each year, while fertiliser shipments account for four million tons of up-bound traffic. The lock, primarily used by the agricultural industry, handles 22.3 million tons annually.
'A typical inland barge has a capacity 15 times greater than one railcar and 60 times greater than one semi-trailer truck, and one 15 barge-tow can move the equivalent of 216 railcars or 1,050 semi-trailer trucks,' according to the American Waterways Operators, which represents the tug and barge industry.
APCT, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Patriot Holdings (APH), entered into an 'exclusivity agreement' in March 2017 with Plaquemines Port Harbour & Terminal District (PPHTD) in Louisiana for a logistics system in which these container vessels will dock at a future container port being planned in Plaquemines and multiple upriver terminals.
PPHTD's new container port on the Mississippi river will be its southernmost port complex that will be able to accommodate vessels up to 20,000 TEU.
The container terminal will comprise 1,000 acres of the new 4,200-acre port complex and also an $8.5 billion liquefied natural gas reliquefication facility and a breakbulk terminal.
Containers imported to Plaquemines would be transferred to APCT's vessels for delivery to their upriver port destination, while export containers will be delivered from upriver ports to Plaquemines for export on ocean carriers, according to PPHTD executive director Sandy Sanders.
'Beneficial cargo owners and carriers alike should look at the planned port as a solution to their logistics problems and the high intermodal costs that plague them today,' he said. 'Our plans are to provide shorter dwell times, lowest cost, with fast and reliable routes.'
Mr Sanders told BlueWater Reporting in December that he expects construction on the container terminal to commence in 12 months, with the first phase taking three years.
The APH said these vessels consist of two designs, a 2,400-TEU model that will strictly operate on the Mississippi river and a 1,700-TEU hybrid vessel that will serve the Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Ohio rivers.
APH will look at potential shipyards in the first quarter of 2019, and once a shipyard is selected and a contract is officially signed, it will take two years to build the first vessel, while the subsequent vessels will each take three to four months to build. APH plans to have two vessels of each design initially and, thereafter, it will be demand driven.
APH has finalised contracts with ports in Memphis, Tennessee, and St Louis, Kansas City, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Contracts with ports in Joliet, Illinois and Little Rock, Arkansas are in the pipeline.
APH's 2,400-TEU vessel design that will be operating on the Mississippi river will allow for round trips of six days between Plaquemines and Memphis and round trips of 10 days between Plaquemines and St Louis.