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Feb. 17, 2014

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46 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE FEBRUARY 17.2014 GULF TRADE: 2014 OUTLOOK SPECIAL REPORT W H E N PR E S I D E NT O BA M A del ivered a speech last fall touting exports, his plan- ners chose the Port of New Orleans as the setting. Exports dominate the port's con- tainerized cargo, and have been driving growth. A big reason is proximit y to petro- chemical plants that line the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Low prices for natural gas have spurred billions of dollars of investments in capacity, much of which is for overseas markets. New Orleans handled about 2 million tons of chemical exports last year, mostly in containers. The port has capitalized on the petrochemical industry's expansion by promoting development of facilities for packaging and container stuffing along the city's Industrial Canal, a small water- way linking the river with the Gulf Outlet canal. In some ways, this is taking a lemon and making lemonade. Forty years ago, the port saw the France Road container terminal on the Industrial Canal as the port's future in containerization. How - ever, the Gulf Outlet's 36-foot draft soon proved inadequate for larger ships. Then in 2005, Hurricane Katrina's storm surge knocked France Road permanently out of commission and led to the Gulf Outlet's closing to ship traffic. The defunct France Road terminal has been repurposed for use by a construc- tion contractor. Meanwhile, the port has redeveloped nearby acreage on or near the Industrial Canal for use as warehousing and repackaging, including rail-to-barge transfer of Midwest and Canadian oil, and transfer of chemicals from railcars to con- tainers for export. During the last t wo decades, New Orleans has concentrated its container ter- minal activities across town from France Road at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal on the Mississippi River, which has a minimum draft of 45 feet. New Orleans port officials are work- ing with the Big River coalition to seek funding for deepening the lower river's nav igation cha nnel. Cong ress aut ho - rized deepening to 55 feet in 1986, mainly for bulk carriers, but has not funded the dredging. By Joseph Bonney THE RIGHT CHEMISTRY Chemical exports drive growth at New Orleans

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