MAP TO PROSPERITY: Coal has a future in WV
Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, is managing member and broker of West Virginia Commercial LLC. He has been involved in commercial and investment real estate for more than 30 years, and he also is general partner of McCabe Land Company LP. He has served in the West Virginia Senate since 1998, and is a special project consultant to The State Journal.
With the expansion of the natural gas industry in the shale-rich counties of North-Central West Virginia and the electric utilities accelerating the retirement of coal-fired plants due to federal regulatory efforts, many feel that the often used phrase “Coal is West Virginia” is indicative of the past, not the future.
There is no doubt coal’s dominance of West Virginia’s economy is being challenged. This is not to say that coal will not continue to be a mainstay of the State’s economy. However, it will be sharing the role with natural gas as well as services and technologies directly related to this more comprehensive energy economy.
Perhaps the new slogan for the 21st Century should be “Energy is West Virginia.”
The expansion of the Panama Canal and the high quality of Norfolk Southern’s port and coal terminal facilities provide the transportation infrastructure needed to allow coal to continue to lead West Virginia’s exports. Coal will remain the fuel of choice for much of the expanding global economy. The future of coal in West Virginia is one of a mature industry adapting to seismic changes but doing so in a way that will assure its survival. Coal exports will increase as a counter-balance to coal fired-power plants being taken off line in the United States.
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SSA Marine: Change in part-ownership won’t affect coal port plan
Bob Watters, SSA Marine senior vice president, says the recent change in the company’s ownership structure won’t affect SSA’s plan to push ahead with the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export project at Whatcom County’s Cherry Point.
“We are full speed ahead on the Gateway Pacific Terminal,” Watters said in an email. “This announcement has no impact on GPT other than the fact that the owners of FRS Capital Corp. have made a significant equity infusion to position Carrix to continue to expand our activities, enhancing existing operations and adding new terminals such as GPT.”
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The Future of Coal: Gulf Coast Hums as Exports Rise
Louisiana Terminals Expand to Move Mississippi River Cargo to Overseas Power Plants
At the southeastern tip of Louisiana, barges piled high with coal reach the end of a long trip down the Mississippi River on its way overseas.
It’s a journey that is becoming more common.
The U.S. typically has been one of the top exporters of metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, most of it mined in Appalachia and shipped from the East Coast.
Now some people in the industry anticipate that the U.S. will become an increasingly significant global supplier of steam coal, which is used to generate electricity. With the domestic market for U.S. steam coal crimped by new environmental rules and competition from natural gas, producers are finding new markets abroad.
Much U.S. steam coal is mined in the Midwest, driving investment in coal-export facilities at Gulf of Mexico ports to meet overseas demand.
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Bellingham coal port: One financial giant exits, another enters
The developments led opponents of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal to point to questions about the financial viability of exporting coal for power generation in Asia. But the supporters of the project appear to be moving forward.
SSA Marine, whose holding company, Carrix, will finance the big project, announced that GS Infrastructure Partners, the Goldman Sachs subsidiary, sold its 49 percent of FRS Capital Co. FRS is Carrix’s parent company and a key part of the coal port effort.
The controlling 51 percent throughout the transactions is held by the Smith and Hemingway family, descendants of the family of Frederick Smith, founder of what became SSA Marine. The company terms itself “the world’s largest independent, privately-held marine terminal operator, with activities at more than 210 terminal facilities.” The SSA statement said the family purchsed Goldman’s share of FRS Capital, and the business magnate, Fernando Chico Pardo, then made a sizeable investment of capital in return for the 49 percent share.
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Great Lakes coal traffic down 7.3% in November from a year ago
Year-to-date coal shipments on the lakes total 22.4 million st, down 2.7% compared with last year.
The Cleveland-based association does not comment on its monthly coal figures, released Thursday.
The largest terminal on the lake, the Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, shipped 1,556,945 st in November, down 4.9% from the prior month and down 6.5% from a year ago.
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