Archive for July, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill’s Effect on Inland Waterways Operators

In the July 26, 2010 issue of the Waterways Journal, Merritt Lane, President and CEO of Canal Barge Company offered insight into the effect of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to inland marine operators. Below are excerpts of the article, courtesy of the Waterways Journal.

Spill Has Little Effect On Inland Firms
By Capt. Richard Eberhardt
Representatives of towing companies and ports along the inland waterways are finding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the resulting moratorium imposed by the Interior Department on deepwater offshore drilling, has had very little effect on their business.
Major ports along the Gulf Coast report no noticeable change in the arrival of vessels. The Port of New Orleans, which is just west of the spill location, has had only two vessels arrive requiring cleaning—a ship and a tug and barge from offshore, said spokesman Chris Bonura.
The ports of Mobile and Pascagoula, which have seen nearby barrier island beaches oiled, remain open as well. To the west, the deepwater ports of Houston/Galveston, Lake Charles, Port Arthur and Freeport are unaffected, although tar balls that were found in Houston were reported to have “hitchhiked” on the bottom of an offshore barge.
As of July 20, only Pensacola and Biloxi Bay are closed during flood (incoming) tides, but opened during ebb (outgoing) tides, according to the Incident Command Center’s Trade and Carrier Support Group, Executive Summary No. 47.
No Inland Impact
“As we operate primarily in the inland waterways, the oil spill thus far has not impacted Canal Barge Company’s daily operations in any significant way,” said Merritt Lane, president and chief executive officer. “We have, however, about 60 deck barges supporting spill response operations. Canal Barge Company deck barges are working to protect Barataria Bay, Mississippi Sound, and the Mobile area from the spill.”

Several other companies have supplied hopper barges that are pulled across some of the waterways to stop the oil from reaching the fragile marshlands. Barges strung end-to-end have proven to be much better at stopping the oil than floating booms, which are largely ineffective when the wind kicks up waves of any significance.
A 40-barge barrier is stretched across the Rigolets area of eastern New Orleans protecting Lake Pontchartrain.
Several of his company’s barges have been involved in cleanup operations, Lane said, and others have moved several fabricated components to support the capping and containment operation.
“We have also adjusted our hurricane planning in response to the unusually large amount of equipment operating along the Gulf Coast in support of the cleanup,” Lane added. “As this equipment would need to move through the New Orleans area in the event of a hurricane threat to southeast Louisiana, we are planning for more of our own horsepower to help evacuate and secure our equipment….”
Long-Term Effects
But while there has been little effect on the inland waterways so far, Turn Services President Frank Morton is looking at the long-term impact. Turn Services operates towboats, full-service fleets and launch boats in service to Associated Terminals, which handles stevedoring and midstream ship loading and unloading operations of deep-draft vessels.
“There are so many things that have an impact on our business that I cannot say what kind of effect the oil spill/drilling moratorium has had so far on our business,” Morton said.
“I am sure that if the drilling moratorium remains it will have effect because of the amount of pipe used in drilling, pipe used in pipelines, the pipe coating raw materials, raw materials for drilling mud, etc.—much of this material is moved by barge,” he cautioned.
Lane agreed, saying that “looking longer-term, if the moratorium stays in place it will have a severely negative impact on the Gulf Coast region’s economy and inevitably hurt those companies that provide oilfield services or move cargoes related to those activities.”
Brenda Levinson, deputy port director at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier, said some are watching the number of barges being used in the cleanup.
“We understand that barges are being pulled into service to assist with the spill—potentially cutting down the number available for loading of goods, however, according to Hugh McConnell, Director of Operations, there has been no adverse impact for the Port of Shreveport-Bossier at this time….”

Courtesy of the Waterways Journal

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comments on Oil Spill & Moratorium

The Deepwater Horizon spill has been a disaster of unprecedented scope that, clearly, no one was prepared for — a massive fire with fatalities, a search and rescue mission followed by a sinking and subsequent massive oil spill. This has been a tragic incident, with major implications for the environment, people, and economy of the Gulf Coast.  It will be studied for decades by management and safety professionals to prevent such things from happening in the future. 

In light of this spill, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce Canal Barge Company’s commitment to doing business right — we will never sacrifice safety for expediency or a quick buck.

There have also clearly been problems with the spill response. At CBC, we firmly believe in early and accurate incident reporting, and an emergency response effort that can be adaptable to large-scale incidents. We recognize that it is always better to overreact and then pull back, rather than to under-react and hope for the best.

New laws and regulations will be forthcoming as a result of the spill and the response — some that are necessary and appropriate, and some that are the result of regulatory overkill.  For example, our industry, which had no connection whatsoever to the Deepwater Horizon incident, is now threatened with attacks on the Jones Act and other laws that govern our domestic maritime industry. We also face increased insurance requirements for oil spills from our vessels, despite the fact that current limits are more than adequate for the quantities and material we carry. Needless to say, we will engage in the debate and push for smarter laws and regulations and against rules that do not make good sense for business or for the safety and protection of people or the environment.

Many of us live in the Gulf region and are no doubt concerned about the impact of this spill on our livelihoods and way of life. These concerns are legitimate, and it is far too early to tell what the long-term environmental impact will be on the Gulf of Mexico and our communities. We can each do our part to support cleanup efforts.

Unfortunately, President Obama has made our region’s recovery more difficult by his decision to put a 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. I believe that this is wrong path because it will harm one of the major economic drivers of the Gulf region for the short- and long-term without a clear improvement in safety. It is insightful that the moratorium was implemented against the advice of our government’s own safety experts. If you are so inclined, please take the time to contact your elected officials to voice your concerns on this issue. Click here for the contact information of your Congressional delegation.

As you know, our entire way of life is built on productive relationships among our economic, recreational and cultural needs along the Gulf Coast. We have sacrificed much and contributed much for the benefit of our fellow Americans. Our region should be more fairly compensated in the future through increased royalties that can then be used to restore the wetlands and to better protect America’s energy infrastructure along the Gulf Coast.

I want to assure you that CBC’s operation is thus far largely unaffected by the oil spill and that we are doing our part to respond to this unfortunate situation. As a member of the New Orleans Business Council, I am working with a coalition to seek to overturn or modify President Obama’s moratorium, as well as to seek funding to assist our tourism economy. Additionally, CBC has assisted in the oil spill response by providing marine equipment and advice to the Incident Command team. CBC representatives will also play a role on the State of Louisiana’s Master Plan for Coastal Restoration that is being put in place as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill and the country’s renewed understanding of our area’s national significance.

Canal Barge Company’s response to the oil spill is consistent with our Business Philosophy of safe and environmentally-responsible operations, as well as being engaged in a positive way in community and industry affairs.

Thank you for your time and attention.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

‘Be the One’ to Support Gulf Coast Restoration

Canal Barge Company supports national efforts to restore the Gulf Coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  To show your support for Gulf Coast Restoration efforts, check out the ‘Be the One’ campaign launched by the Women of the Storm at www.restorethegulf.com.   There is a video to view, as well as an online petition that states, ‘I demand that a plan to restore American’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.’