Monday, August 17, 2020

New Multimodal Container Port Proposed for Mississippi River Facility

Unique Box Ship Design to Ferry Freight in Louisiana Tributaries
Shipping News Feature

US – Sitting just a few miles south east of New Orleans it seems Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District (PPHTD) on the banks of the Mississippi River is about to get its own container terminal. The port authority has signed a Letter of Intent with several potential partners with a view to developing a multimodal distribution facility for the benefit of local businesses.

The proposed, environmentally friendly container terminal will be powered by a combination of LNG and electricity. It will encompass up to 1,000 acres and 8,200 feet of Mississippi River frontage just 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Phase one of construction is expected to take as little as 2 years and will deliver the capability to handle 22,000-TEU class vessels with the ability to expand capacity if needed.

Following a six month due diligence period during which studies as to the implications and practicalities of the scheme will be undertaken, the intention is for American Patriot Holdings (APH), one of the companies which is a potential partner, to supply the waterborne hardware.

This is in the form of a 2,375 TEU box vessel to provide Mississippi River transport as far north as Saint Louis, reaching upriver speeds of 13 mph. Meanwhile APH’s hybrid vessels, with capacities of 1,700-TEU, will provide transport service in tributary rivers. Testing of the unique vessel designs in Potsdam, Germany in 2017 can be seen here.

APH says the patented no-wake bow and exoskeleton structure of the ships, along with LNG propulsion, will reduce shipper transportation costs and improve reliability as they could potentially service inland container centres in around St. Louis, Jefferson City, Little Rock, Memphis, Joliet, Kansas City, Cairo, and Western Arkansas. Full details of the design and development of the unique vessels can be seen here.

The deal is targeting export cargoes giving US Midwest shippers the ability to containerise many local agricultural products, including those needing refrigerated freight carriage, plus chemical resins. Plaquemines Port Executive Director Sandy Sanders said:

“This will be the Gateway Port on the Gulf Coast capable of taking full advantage of the distribution network on the Mississippi and tributary rivers while reducing road congestion in the region and accommodating LNG-powered vessels to enhance environmental sustainability.”

The parties involved agree that a strategically located, state-of-the-art facility designed with the environment in mind fits perfectly with global shippers’ demands for the future. Developing and operating a modern gateway container terminal on the Gulf Coast will reduce exposure to congestion and improve reliability and, a new LNG terminal proposed adjacent to the facility opens the door for large LNG-powered containerships in the US.

The Louisiana 23 Development Company, LLC (Devco), led by Chris Fetters, was selected as the exclusive private development partner for Plaquemines Port in December 2019. Devco will provide financial solutions and funding alternatives to support the container terminal development. The company will be responsible for funding and constructing critical infrastructure including rail, warehousing and utility services.

Plaquemines Port and Devco have also cultivated a strategic alliance with Dallas County Inland Port supplementing the Midwest trade network and American Patriot Container Transport CEO Sal Litrico said his company was ready to get the project underway and bring improve competitiveness to the market.

Photo: The design of the APH vessels will certainly attract attention.