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Barge traffic remains sluggish

Muskogee Phoenix
April 23, 2016
D.E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

Barge and rail traffic to and from the Port of Muskogee sputtered through March, continuing a lethargic trend caused by sluggish activity in the oil and gas sectors due to repricing within the industry.

A report by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority shows barge tonnage for March tumbled 62.48 percent, or 45,412 tons, when compared with the 72,681 tons shipped during the same period a year ago. The 27,269 tons shipped by barge this past month represented an improvement from the 17,938 tons shipped in January, when flooding practically shut down the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

“Barge tonnage on the river was ... down 20 percent on the Oklahoma segment last year, and it’s down so far this year,” Port Director Scott Robinson said Tuesday, noting an exception for Muskogee, which was able to maintain levels reported in 2014. “We are well behind the curve (this year), but nothing like 20 percent.”

A report to the Muskogee City-County Port Authority shows barge traffic in March included 24,329 tons of imports on 16 barges. Imported materials consisted primarily of clay, molasses, nepheline syenite, rebar, and steel coils.

Only two barges left the port in March, carrying 2,940 tons of cargo — scrap steel and coke. Year-to-date figures show tonnage for both imports and exports was down 51.51 percent, or 115,330 tons, from the 223,891 tons shipped by barge during the first quarter of 2015.

Cargo shipped by rail to and from the Port of Muskogee in March dropped by about a third of what was recorded in February but continued to realize small but steady gains that began to take shape during the first quarter of 2015. Rail tonnage for the first quarter this year was up 26.02 percent, or 11,900 tons, from the 45,736 tons shipped by rail during the first three months of 2015.

“Our rail tonnage so far is up compared to last year, but it’s nothing significant — nothing you would want to write home about,” Robinson said. “We have talked at length about the repricing of oil and gas and the impact that has had ..., (and) unless something changes, I really don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel — it’s going to take a while.”

Rail cargo recorded in March totaled 14,151 tons, up 66.76 percent, or 5,665 tons, from the 8,485 tons shipped during the same period a year ago. Rail imports consisting primarily of steel, glass cullet, calcine coke, steeps, and phosphoric acid arrived on 121 cars, and exports coke, fertilizer, and pipe left the port on 33.

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

Source:  http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/barge-traffic-remains-sluggish/article_2ce379aa-6bea-5437-a730-3845ad83bb8f.html

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