U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, is trying to make sure the Port of Morgan City and other oil field ports receive proper credit for the value of cargo traveling through those ports, and in turn, provide more funding for river dredging, Port of Morgan City Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said today. In a Tuesday news release, Landrieu said she has added a provision that will require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to factor in the value of goods and equipment used in offshore energy production including fabrication, and servicing and supplying offshore rigs when deciding which projects to build and which channels to dredge. Landrieu is chairwoman of the Senate Energy and NaturalResources Committee. Coastal energy ports get shortchanged in corps funding, Landrieu said. “The corps can count dirt, but not drilling mud,” Landrieu said. “They can track textile products, but not the topsides that produce energy off our coasts. It is time that this nation begins recognizing the value of our domestic energy industry and investing in the basic infrastructure it needs to grow and prosper,” Landrieu said. The new provision is part of the annual appropriations bill that funds the Department of Energy and the Corps of Engineers. The bill is expected to receive final approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, according to the new release. The current corps process prioritizes projects based on the tonnage that moves in and out of a port, the news release said. However, the process fails to capture much of the specialized cargo handled by Louisiana’s energy ports, which include Port Fourchon, the Port of Terrebonne, the Port of Iberia, the Port of Morgan City, Plaquemines Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District, and the Port of Lake Charles putting them at an unfair disadvantage as they compete for limited corps funding, the release stated.
“This provision sends a clear signal to the corps that they must look at more than the number on the scale,” Landrieu said. “They must weigh the contribution that our energy ports make to the whole country and put them on a level playing field for federal funds to keep America’s working coast strong.” Port officials have been active with Landrieu and Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, to try to reform the port ranking process, Wade said. “We have convinced our congressional delegation we’re getting shortchanged down here,” Wade said. “We may not have as much tonnage, but look at the value we’re adding,” Wade said. The provision Landrieu is pushing to include in the appropriations bill will help the Port of Morgan City in the long run, Wade said. The Port of Morgan City only gets a few tons of credit for oil field supplies that travel through the port to be shipped to drilling rigs even though those supplies are worth millions of dollars, Wade said. Grain, steel and coal barges are easy to count while much of the tonnage passing through the Port of Morgan City does not get counted, Wade said. “One blowout preventer from Cameron may be worth $10 million. It takes a lot of grain barges to make $10 million,” Wade said. The Port of Morgan City has been leading the charge to stand up for oil field ports in Washington, D.C., Wade said. Port of Morgan City Economic Development Director Cindy Cutrera has been working diligently on getting proper tonnage credit, and her efforts are finally paying off, Wade said. “It’s very important to keep our channels open. We couldn’t have the energy in this country if it wasn’t for oil field ports, and we should be compensated for that,” Wade said. The Atchafalaya River continually has problems with areas silting in and thus making the channel too shallow, he said.
Published by Daily Review June 18, 2014