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Rail cargo increases, barge traffic decreases

Muskogee Phoenix
muskogeephoenix.com
March 17, 2016
D.E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

Barge traffic to and from the Port of Muskogee remained sluggish in February despite improved conditions along the inland navigation system, but cargo shipped by rail continued to show steady gains.

A report released Tuesday by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority shows barge tonnage reported in February fell 17.58 percent, or 13,513 tons, when compared with the 76,865 tons shipped during the same period a year ago. The 63,353 tons shipped by barge this past month, however, represented a significant improvement from the 17,938 tons shipped in January, when flooding practically shut down the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

"Barge traffic ... in January was nearly a goose egg because of the floods," Port Director Scott Robinson said. "But through February, I think you have to attribute quite a bit of that to a downturn in the economy — we are seeing that just about everywhere."

Robinson's monthly report shows 40 barges arrived at the Port of Muskogee in February carrying imported goods totaling 60,312 tons. Imports consisted primarily of steel coils, nepheline syenite, fertilizer, clay, molasses and rebar.

Exported goods left the port on two barges that carried 3,041 tons of cargo consisting entirely of petroleum coke and scrap steel. Robinson said he expects "barge tonnage will recover and get close to normal."

Cargo shipped by rail to and from the Port of Muskogee continued to make small but steady gains since it hit a low of 10,156 tons this past June. Rail tonnage recorded for the calendar year to date is up 16.74 percent compared with the first two months of 2015 with 43,485 tons leaving or arriving by rail.

While rail traffic has increased some, it remains well below 2013 and 2014 levels. Robinson said that "all has to do with" the "price collapse" seen in the oil and gas industry.

Rail cargo recorded in February totaled 21,914 tons, up 18.66 percent, or 3,446 tons, from the 18,468 tons shipped during the same period a year ago. Rail imports consisting primarily of steel, glass cullet, pipe and ligin arrived on 226 cars, while exports consisting entirely of fertilizer left on 15.

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

Source:  http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/rail-cargo-increases-barge-traffic-decreases/article_703e3f61-251c-5a76-8a20-d5b835cd47ad.html

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