Tulsa Port of Catoosa reports record year
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Friday, December 21, 2012
12/21/12 at 4:06 AM
CATOOSA - The Tulsa Port of Catoosa broke its annual shipping record in November with a month to go as cargo surpassed pre-recession levels.
As of Nov. 30, shippers sent 2.55 million tons of water-borne cargo through the port in 2012.
"It's really been a big year," said Bob Portiss, director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. "When I saw the numbers come in, I asked to have them checked again."
Nearly all of the improvement comes from oil shipments that began in August 2011. Crude petroleum is being taken from the Cushing hub to the port via truck and then sent down the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System toward the Gulf Coast.
The port has seen 390,000 tons of crude oil come through headed south, equal to about 2.9 million barrels.
Shippers began sending crude through the port because of the price difference between West Texas Intermediate oil stored at terminals in Cushing and Brent Crude shipped from overseas by boat to the Gulf Coast refineries.
In futures trading Thursday, WTI settled at $90.13 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, which is priced on a London exchange, was more than $20 higher at $110.20.
The price spread, which widened substantially last year amid booming U.S. oil production, made shipping midcontinent crude through the port profitable.
"It's an opportunity, and we're taking advantage of it," said Rex Gilbreath, a partner with PetroSource LLC, an oil and gas accounting firm. "It could disappear at any moment, but it hasn't yet."
Efforts are being made to reverse pipelines to send more oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast via conduit, but they have not significantly closed the price spread so far.
Shipping of all cargo through the port last month totaled 262,260 tons, a 23 percent improvement over November 2011. In fact, shipping numbers have improved in every month of the year, except for a slight decrease last January.
Through November, port shipping has already bested last year's total by 18 percent, or nearly 400,000 tons of cargo.
Shipping via the port has been recovering steadily since the recession.
The port's previous high was back in 1998, when 2.4 million tons of cargo came through. Back then fertilizer, farm products and raw steel were the leading components. The mix is similar today, but crude oil has become a major piece of the port's business.
"We knew early on that 2012 was going to be a good year, but the numbers from November have proved it has been a superb year, the best in the port's history," said David Page, chairman of the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority. "It's a testament to the resiliency of our local economy and the port's capabilities."
December's shipping totals are expected to be significantly lower than recent months because of a three-week maintenance shutdown along the waterway near the Mississippi River at Montgomery Point, Ark. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers shut down a lock and dam there in late November for repairs that were supposed to take four weeks.
The lock and dam reopened ahead of schedule earlier this week because rains along northern portions of the Mississippi increased water levels enough to float barges past Montgomery Point while repairs were still taking place.
Tulsa Port of Catoosa's best years
Best years for port shipping (in tons of incoming and outgoing cargo)
* Through November
Source: Tulsa Port of Catoosa
Original Print Headline: Loads of success
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Two coker units destined for the Phillips 66 refinery in Ponca City arrive earlier this week at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. The units were built in Kobe, Japan, shipped to New Orleans and then upriver, port officials said. Trucks are transporting the equipment to Ponca City. Courtesy
Shipping of all cargo through the port of Catoosa last month totaled 262,260 tons, a 23 percent improvement over November 2011. Shipping numbers have improved in every month since January. TOM GILBERT/ Tulsa World