11 Nov, 2010
By: Jennifer Alten
Flanking the western Gulf Coast and the Texas border, the five-parish region known as Southwest Louisiana is entrenched in the maritime industry. Six ports operate in the area, offering everything from deep water to river access, along with abundant connections to rail and trucking. Thanks to the Southwest Louisiana Port Network, businesses can easily move their goods – and the raw materials needed to make them – in and out of the area, connecting seamlessly to the rest of the world.
This strategic advantage hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially by those wanting to transport petroleum, liquid natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical products, as well as raw materials like aluminum, barite, food items and a host of other cargoes. The area is also known as the “oil patch,” with many companies in the region supplying offshore oil rigs or associated in some way with the oil and petrochemical industries.
This port network is made up of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District (commonly called the Port of Lake Charles), the East and West Cameron Ports, the West Calcasieu Port, the Mermentau River Harbor and Terminal District and the Vinton Harbor and Terminal District. Created two years ago, the Southwest Louisiana Port Network has streamlined communication and forged even more productive working relationships among the ports.
It’s no wonder that the word “port” is part of support.
“Our corner of the state is blessed with a strong lineup of progressive ports. Most folks are well aware of the Port of Lake Charles, which is the country’s 11th largest port. But, we also have the others, each with its own niche. For the past two years, all six ports have worked closely together within the Southwest Louisiana Port Network,” said Lynn Hohensee, Port Director at the West Calcasieu Port. “The Southwest Louisiana maritime industry is in a better position to react to opportunities in concert, rather than separately.”
The port recently received a huge piece of business, a $1.6 billion project to build Lake Charles Cogeneration, a clean energy petroleum coke gasification plant that began construction in 2009 on port-owned property.
East and West Cameron Ports
The East and West Cameron Ports in Cameron Parish are both vital economic engines to the area. The West Cameron Port is located on the Gulf of Mexico with deepwater access and shallow draft capabilities, while the East Cameron Port has access to the Gulf through the Mermentau River estuary. They play integral roles in commercial fishing and manufacturing, as well as oil and gas service and exploration.
The port is in the midst of a $20 million dredging project to further increase its competitiveness, and is home to two LNG plants, valued at $1 billion each, that are soon to experience another $4 billion worth of expansions between the two.
Another business that finds the area advantageous is Martin Midstream, which operates full service terminals at the East and West Cameron Ports. The Cameron locations provide service to the oil companies and their offshore operations.
Mermentau River Harbor and Terminal District
Located along the Mermentau River and connected with the Intracoastal Canal, this port serves as a lifeline to the shipyards and oil refineries located along its shores. The port’s cargoes include aggregate, fertilizer, rough rice and rice hull compost, rice and soybeans. Situated one mile north of U.S. Highway 90, the terminals and facilities located along the port include Port Aggregates, Acadiana Export Service, Mid State Sand and Gravel Company and Diamond B. Construction and Bunge.