Port Seeks Dredging of Houma Navigation Canal

HOUMA, LA (AP) — The director of the Port of Terrebonne says a more thorough accounting of all the oilfield supplies and materials carried on local waters may lead to a solution for the Houma Navigation Canal depth problems.

         The Courier’s Xerxes Wilson reports port officials have been working to improve the port's ranking in the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center's annual rankings to get more money for waterway maintenance.

         The statistics center is tasked with compiling information on the movements of vessels and commodities on the waterways and canals throughout the country. That information is used to rank the top 150 ports by the tons of materials moved along waterways within a port's jurisdiction.

         Port of Terrebonne Director David Rabalais and Greater Lafourche Port Commission Director Chet Chiasson have been working with the statistics center to ensure oilfield-specific items are captured in the calculations.

         The burden for reporting to the center falls on individual operators, which Rabalais said will be the focus of outreach efforts to see more thorough reporting in the future.

         In the past two years, the Port of Terrebonne's ranking has improved from 150 to 98 after its jurisdiction was corrected in the ranking system. The port's jurisdiction is the entirety of Terrebonne Parish. It improved to 86 this year after new materials were included in the ranking system, Rabalais said.

         Until recently, Port Fourchon wasn't included in the ranking system. After being included this year, it ranks 64th in the country. The Greater Lafourche Port Commission's jurisdiction is south of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

         The rankings are one factor in determining how much money certain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintained waterways get for maintenance, Rabalais said.

         "Last year, instead of getting about $200,000 per year that we usually get for the Houma Navigation Canal, which we can do nothing with, we got up to $1.5 million," Rabalais said. "We think if we can get up to 50th, we can get $2 million or $2.5 million per year, and with a little help from the state keep the canal at 15 feet."


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