Port to advertise for new operator
Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade
The Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District commission approved spending up to $10,000 on advertising to find a new operator at the Port of Morgan City to try to fill the vacancy left when previous operator Inmobilaria Lamol departed in August.
Port officials have talked to several companies about potentially becoming the new port operator, Port Commission President Jerry Gauthier said at the commission’s meeting Monday.
“It does send a message to them that we’re serious about this ... and if you’re talking serious you better move before somebody else moves. It might light a fire under somebody chit chatting with you now to have a serious conversation,” Gauthier said.
Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District Executive Director Raymond “Mac” Wade said though he has talked to some interested parties, no company has put down a deposit and no deals have been made. The port may advertise in trade journals as far away as St. Louis and along the Gulf Coast just to see whether other interested parties are out there, Wade said.
The commission also authorized Gauthier to sign an agreement with Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations to lease a portion of the port’s facilities. The property is by the warehouse in the back of the port’s facilities next to the Atchafalaya River.
Port Attorney Gerard Bourgeois said he talked to Baker Hughes leasing part of the port’s facilities, 25,000 square-feet at $4,000 a month. Baker Hughes had previously been a tenant of the port.
The company will also be charged for each railcar that delivers its goods to the port, Wade said. Another 25,000 square-feet is still available for lease in the same area of the port.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to place rock along a 2-mile stretch of bank on the Crewboat Cut in the Atchafalaya River is under way and could be finished as early as the end of December, Wade said.
During the summer, former Port Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir said the Crewboat Cut project is expected to save $6 million to $7 million in dredging costs because the cut will become self-scouring.
After the banks of the Crewboat Cut are “armored” with rock, the corps will use a cutter-head dredge to remove 350 to 400 yards of sand, Wade said. “Once they (corps) do that, they think from then on … most likely there will be enough blocking that will keep it from washing out.”
The project is intended to eliminate the detour that large vessels have to take through the Horseshoe Bend in the Atchafalaya River and will also save money by not having to dredge the bend in the future, Wade said.
Regarding dredging of the Atchafalaya Bar Channel to agitate the pudding-like sediment mixture or “fluff,” Wade met with the corps’ division office in Vicksburg and talked about letting the port do a sidecaster dredge demonstration. “They basically agreed to let us go ahead and do this demonstration on the sidecaster,” Wade said. Any money used for the demonstration would come out of the port’s budget.
The sidecasting method would cost, per day, about 10 percent of what it costs per day to use a cutter-head dredge, which the port has used in the past to dredge the Atchafalaya Bar Channel, Wade said.
The sidecaster dredge is not as efficient as a cutter-head dredge, but the sidecaster will be able to agitate the “fluff” and keep it in suspension. The goal is to be able to maintain the congressionally mandated 20-foot depth of the channel.
The plans are to use a sidecasting dredge based out of Wilmington, N.C. Officials are trying to get some “hard numbers” to how much it would cost per day to demonstrate the sidecaster dredge, Wade said.
Port officials hope to have the demonstration finished by summer 2014, he said.