Perseverance has proven to be the “rule of the day” in 2021 for the West Calcasieu Port. While spared the heartache of the 2020 hurricanes, the port board of commissioners, staff and tenants continued to struggle through the recovery process of the storms with the COVID pandemic as a backdrop for the effort. Additionally, like everyone in Southwest Louisiana, the port also contended with another pair of federally declared natural disasters in the form of Winter Storm URI, a February week-long winter ice/snow storm and a 500-year rain storm in mid-May.
But, despite the recovery challenges over the past 12 months, 2021 has been a year of determined effort by our port leadership and our family of tenants.
Preparing for 2022, the port leadership (board/staff) remains committed in its determination to rebuilding the port’s land-based and water-borne infrastructure assets. This will be accomplished while keeping the port’s mission in mind – that being to effectively serve the community and our port tenants through the creation of job growth and regional business expansion, while maintaining the priority for environmental stewardship.
During 2021, port infrastructure improvements and expansion announced prior to the economically crippling impact of the global pandemic continued to move forward. Much of this port facility growth would not have been possible without the valued partnership of federal, state and parish economic development support through financial investment grants.
The port board/staff also remain dedicated to supporting the sustainable enhancement of our tenants’ operational and financial performance, despite a slower-than-anticipated timeline to accomplish the desired results – that being providing our port tenants with the assets and resources needed to meet their operational commitments to their clients.
As a result, the port leadership represented by the board of commissioners (and supported by a dedicated contract staff) played an instrumental role in surviving hurricanes, a pandemic and an environmental downturn.
Highlighting port activities in 2021 are:
- Tenant support/retention/recruitment —
- Devall Enterprises was sold and became Devall Southern and part of the family of diversified business owned by CC Industries, a privately owned company headquartered in Chicago. Devall Southern continues to be a national and regional leader in barge fleeting services.
- Despite losing its main building (leased from the port) during Hurricane Laura, VLS Marine Services has maintained an operational presence at the port. The port leadership greatly appreciates the patience of VLS management as efforts continue to support the company’s wet barge cleaning/stripping services. VLS plays an important role in augmenting the services that barge clientele of Devall Southern are offered when their barges are fleeted at the port. Wet barge cleaning/stripping services, are vitally critical to shallow-water maritime service in Southwest Louisiana where barge transportation continues to play a strong role in regional economic development recovery and growth.
- River Barge Works continues to operate at the far west end of the basin. RBW dry-barge cleaning/repair services are a valued part of the comprehensive marine services offered to Devall Enterprises barge clients and other shallow-water barge firms.
- Atlantic Equipment leases two fenced acres and additional port property to store/market construction equipment (scaffolding, concrete barriers) from regional construction projects.
- General Equipment Services leases acreage to store/market a variety of equipment/materials from regional construction projects.
- Discussion continues with Stream Land Company for the leasing of land for the placement of an auxiliary pump station for dredge spoils. The spoils will be moved by pipeline from the Driftwood LNG Terminal site to the port where the pump station will facilitate the movement of approximately eight million cubic yards of spoils to numerous beneficial dredge spoil sites west of the port. The project is expected to take about two years.
- Infrastructure improvements:
- The construction of a heavy-duty crane pad and 600 linear feet of new bulkhead along the port’s Gulf Intracoastal Waterway shoreline continue to move forward. The construction project was made possible by a $4.2 million federal grant through the Economic Development Administration – a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grant is funding 80 percent of the project. A Port Priority Program grant ($1.91 million) made possible by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development in 2020 will cover 90 percent of the costs associated with the dredging of the waterfront along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway where the bulkhead will be constructed.
- The port’s barge loading ramp underwent extensive repairs and put back into operation in early fall and the market demand has started to come back. The ramp (the only one at a public entity port facility in Calcasieu Parish) is capable of accommodating the multi-modal movement of land-based vehicles (up to 80,000 lbs.) onto maritime deck barges for transport to a variety of locations.
- McManus Construction of Lake Charles completed the construction of the port’s new entrance roadway (the Alfred Devall Parkway) which opened for traffic in late 2020, and was completed in 2021. The new port entrance road facilitates easier access/egress of industrial traffic as well as reduces heavy industrial traffic through a rural residential neighborhood that borders the port’s northern property line. The construction would not have been possible without a grant totaling more than $878,000 from the La. Department of Transportation & Development’s port priority program. The DOTD grant covers 90 percent of the construction costs. The port also has received a $250,000 economic development grant from the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury to cover most of the remaining costs of the road construction.
- Financial growth/Investment development/asset expansion
- Final economic impact of the 2020 hurricane damages to the port and its assets continues to be tabulated.
- Last, but not least, is the year-by-year “bottom line” fiscal position of the port as demonstrated by the numbers below (dating back 15 years) – note that 2021 operating income was impacted significantly by the ongoing 2020-2021 natural disaster recovery difficulties and the continuing negative impact of the COVID global pandemic.
Total Assets Operating Income
2007 2,946,060 128,287
2008 3,215,264 175,090
2009 3,635,484 156,270
2010 5,297,190 18,897
2011 5,497,810 234,950
2012 6,662,381 322,117
2013 9,485,670 373,449
2014 10,467,096 395,947
2015 10,790,567 362,450
2016 12,426,064 349,864
2017 13,327,719 401,773
2018 16,741,770 281,679
2019 18,659,577 281,256
2020 20,051,348 411,612
2021 $21,381,372 $ 35,925