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Barge traffic starts to pick up

Muskogee Phoenix
July 27, 2015
D.E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

Port director says Arkansas River system becoming 'manageable'

Barge traffic to and from the Port of Muskogee is on target to return to normal shipping patterns this month after flooding in May and June disrupted almost all activity along the inland navigation system.

Only one barge arrived at the port during June, and no cargo was shipped out of the facility this past month via the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. The near standstill in June and disruptions caused by flooding during the second half of May halted what began as a brisk year for barge traffic at the port.

“The river is not back to normal yet, (but) for the first time in a while it is manageable,” Port Director Scott Robinson said. “The duration of this (flooding event) was pretty tough, (but) tows are going out every day now.”

Data released show cargo shipped by barge during the month of June totaled just 1,597 tons, a drop of 96.67 percent, or 46,348 tons, from the 47,945 tons shipped by barge in June 2014. Cargo shipped by barge during the first half of 2015 totaled 312,847 tons, down 15.19 percent, or 56,036 tons, from the 368,883 tons shipped during the first six months of 2014.

Robinson said about 40 barges arrived earlier this month, and regular shipments in and out of the Port of Muskogee have resumed. He predicted July will “be a normal month and maybe even a little better” than most, but barge traffic typically is slower during the late spring and early summer months than at other times of the year.

Robinson said cargo shipped in June to and from the port by rail continued to decline, with 10,156 tons of cargo being shipped during the month. That is down 54.83 percent, or 12,329 tons, when compared with the 22,485 tons of cargo shipped during June 2014.

Rail shipments during the first half of the year also were down compared with data reported during the first six months of 2014. Year-to-date figures this year show 95,495 tons of cargo were shipped to and from the port by rail, which is down 35.77 percent, or 53,176 tons, from the 148,671 tons shipped during the first half of 2014.

“Rail traffic is going to be slow for the foreseeable future — our rail shippers are primarily energy-sector companies — and the outlook for oil and gas does not look good,” Robinson said. “A lot of people thought we would have seen oil and gas prices rebound by now, but that hasn’t happened.”

A report released by Port of Catoosa officials shows total barge tonnage shipped on the inland navigation system totaled 390,084 tons. Of that amount, 77,800 tons of cargo were shipped through Oklahoma.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Source: http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/local_news/barge-traffic-starts-to-pick-up/article_afdbdd46-689f-5002-a0b1-22f946f034c1.html


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The Port of Muskogee is located at River Navigation Mile 393.8 R in Muskogee, Oklahoma.