Virginia Dredging Project to Support Larger Coal Ships (Daily Press)
NN coal terminal to dredge berth to handle giant ships
With dredging Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX will match other area terminals
Houston energy giant Kinder Morgan submitted a proposal to dredge a berth at its Newport News coal terminal to 52 feet from its current 45 feet, which would allow larger “Panamax” ships to dock on either side of its pier.
Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX terminal and Dominion Terminals Associates’ terminal sit side by side by the mouth of the James River in a portion of the river that’s deep enough to handle Panamax ships that can traverse the Panama Canal at its current depth, as well as larger Capesize vessels that have to get between oceans via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa or Cape Horn in South America.
And according to Kinder Morgan’s website the south side of its finger pier – so named because it sticks out into the river like a finger – is deep enough to handle the Capesize ships.
“But the north side has always been shallower,” said David Host, who runs T. Parker Host, a local shipping agent.”
The dredge project “matches the depth in the adjacent berthing area” on the south side of the pier, according to a permit filed with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
“What it appears they’re doing is spending the money to dredge the north side so they have the flexibility to load (ships) to 50 feet on either side,” Host said.
That, he said, would give them the flexibility that Dominion Terminals Associates and Norfolk Southern Corp. – which operates the largest coal terminal in the region in Norfolk – already have.
Capacity to have two large ships at the pier at one time, Host said, would increase efficiency at Pier IX.
“And anytime you can save time, you save money,” he said.
The work will cost $1.5 million, according to a dredge permit application that VMRC received from Kinder Morgan in April and will consider at its May 28 meeting.
The application estimates 118,200 cubic yards of maintenance dredging, as well as 83,600 cubic yards of new dredging will be necessary to achieve the proposed depth.”
All 201,800 cubic yards of the material will be mechanically dredged, put in scows and barged to Craney Island in Portsmouth for disposal, it says.
The permit estimates the dredge work will take two months, and also states two additional cycles of dredging will be required in the next 10 years.
Staff at VMRC will recommend Kinder Morgan’s dredge project be approved and the company pay a one-time royalty fee of $37,620 relating to the new dredge work, said John Bull, an agency spokesman, in an email.
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