Cargo traffic soars at Port of Pascagoula

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Published: October 25,2011

Tags: cargo, exports, imports, international trade, ports, transportation

PASCAGOULA — Cargo tonnage at the Port of Pascagoula was up 27 percent through the third quarter compared to 2010, mostly due to liquefied natural gas coming into Gulf LNG Energy’s Bayou Casotte terminal.

Port director Mark McAndrews tells the Mississippi Press the beginning LNG shipments more than offset some declines in some of port’s traditional cargoes.

The first LNG tanker arrived at the port in June, which was meant to help acclimate the terminal’s tanks and piping. The facility — in full production this month — will celebrate with a ribbon cutting Thursday.

Port data show 132,075 tons of LNG came in through the third quarter.

The port has moved 469,856 tons of cargo so far this year, up from 369,608 tons in the same period last year. McAndrews says that had the LNG shipments not come in, overall tonnage would have been down by about 9 percent.

Forest products remained basically unchanged, with 216,361 tons moved this year, although demand has fluctuated for certain products. For example, lumber got a 29 percent boost, while wooden poles saw a 28 percent decrease.

Imports of chemicals such as aniline and benzene — which go to the local DuPont chemical plant — were down 52 percent.

McAndrews said the 26,409 tons moved so far this year have been aniline. Last year in the same period, 14,037 tons of benzene and 40,777 tons of aniline were imported.

“That’s driven by their own internal manufacturing decisions,” McAndrews said.

Poultry exports also fell 23 percent to 74,339 tons, down from 96,590 tons last year.

“Even after the issues that kept the market down last year were resolved, the Russians still decreased the amount of poultry they’re importing from the U.S.,” McAndrews said. “They’re just trying to increase their own capacity.”

Russia has been the port’s largest market for chicken exports, but in early 2010, it barred incoming U.S. chicken for fear of the anti-microbial chlorine rinses used to disinfect the meat.

The ban lasted about six months and McAndrews said that greatly affected the port’s poultry exports.

The other poultry markets the port ships to — Ukraine, Turkey and Cuba — are not nearly as large as the Russian market was in the past, McAndrews said.

Other cargo, such as motor vehicles, bulk cargo, machinery and iron and steel, were up 19,749 tons to 20,669.

McAndrews said that growth came mainly from the iron and steel category, which grew from 13 tons in the first three quarters of last year to 10,241 tons this year.

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