Aug. 4—The Port of Muskogee ended the second quarter with barge tonnage higher than any quarterly total since 2018.
Port Director Kimbra Scott said monthly tonnage trended higher in June across all transportation modes — barge, rail and truck. She acknowledged it was not by "a lot, but we're coming back up" after a pandemic in 2020 and catastrophic flooding the year before.
Scott said she is "very excited" about the prospects for a product about which she was allowed to share only limited information. She said the first shipment "of wood pulp was very successful," and the barge was unloaded in 12 hours — there was less success with a barge sent to Memphis.
"They sent their team over here to find out how we did it and to try and do it like we did," Scott said. "I can't tell you anything else about it right now — we're not really supposed to be talking about it — but I got approval to be able to talk about that."
Barge tonnage reported for the first half of the calendar year totaled 277,730 tons. That represents a 6.87% increase from the 258,640 tons reported during the first six months of 2020.
For June, barge tonnage totaled 44,483 tons, up 32.79% from the 29,899 tons reported for the same period a year ago. Imports consisted primarily of clay, nepheline syenite, steel coils, fertilizer and cane molasses, which arrived along with two other commodities on 28 barges.
Rail tonnage, according to reports presented to Muskogee City-County Port Authority, trended slightly higher in June with 9,080 tons. That represents a 14.36% increase from the 7,777 tons reported for June 2020.
Year-to-date totals reflect the layoffs last year at Vallourec, which was the port's largest rail customer. Scott said on Tuesday there are several projects in progress that could take up some of that slack in rail tonnage.
Rail tonnage recorded during the first six months of 2021 totaled 68,149 tons, an 89.91% decrease from the 129,422 tons reported during the first two quarters of 2020.
June imports shipped by rail consisted primarily of steel, asphalt, pipe, pig iron and rebar, which arrived along with eight other commodities on 92 cars. Ten cars of pipe were exported in June.
Truck cargo tracked in June totaled 83,959 tons, which was up 22.38% from the 65,165 tons reported for the same month in 2020. Year-to-date truck tonnage totaling 473,828 tons represents year-to-date 12.23% increase, up 57,965 tons from the 415,863 tons reported during the first half of 2020.