Ports & Terminals

Plaquemines Port, APM Terminals Announce Talks To Develop Future Container Terminal

Officials with the Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal District (PPHTD) and APM Terminals, an A.P.Moller-Maersk company, have announced an agreement to collaborate on the future design of the port’s long-planned container terminal near Mile 50 on the Lower Mississippi River. According to the announcement, part of the discussion will include the consideration of APM Terminals as the future terminal’s operator.

The deepwater, multimodal container facility would be located near Point Celeste, La., on the right descending bank.

“The appeal of Plaquemines’ protected river port location and export/import market strength makes this a very unique supply chain offering for customers and our growth ambitions,” said Wim Lagaay, CEO of APM Terminals North America, which also operates the container terminal at nearby Port of Mobile, Ala. “We look forward to working with PPHTD, their partners and with state and local leaders to ensure the port is set up for long-term success.”

According to the announcement from Plaquemines Port, the agreement between PPHTD and APM Terminals “represents a formal discussion phase whereby both parties will conduct multiple studies prior to making a final investment decision.” That’s similar language to a letter of intent the port announced in August 2020 between the port and “several potential partners.” That agreement initiated a six-month “due diligence” period for the port and interested parties to study the feasibility of the proposed facility. 

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According to the port, the proposed terminal will be powered by a combination of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and electricity from the power grid. The facility will cover as much as 1,000 acres and offer 8,200 linear feet of Mississippi River frontage. Taking into account the terminal’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, its design will focus on withstanding storm surge and wind damage. The first phase of construction is expected to take up to two years and will offer the ability to dock 22,000-TEU vessels.

As first announced several years ago, the terminal will work in conjunction with a fleet of inland container vessels from American Patriot Holdings (APH). Those self-propelled inland container vessels will shuttle containers to a network of partner terminals upriver, including ports in St. Louis; Memphis, Tenn.; Joliet, Ill.; Kansas City, Mo.; Cairo, Ill., and Western Arkansas. Plaquemines Port has partnered with Louisiana 23 Development Company for financial solutions and funding alternatives to support development of the facility.

Unlike previous efforts to move containers on the inland waterways via slow-moving towboats pushing hopper barges, APH’s inland container vessel will reportedly be able to carry 2,375 TEUs at a time and reach speeds of 13 mph. when moving upriver. According to APH, the vessels will feature LNG propulsion and cast little to no wake. American Patriot Holdings is also developing a smaller version of the inland container vessel capable of transiting locks along smaller waterways.

APH and PPHTD officials have said that volume and speed will make movement of containers on the Mississippi River and its tributaries economically viable versus transport by truck or rail.

“Partnering with APM Terminals to work together on this project is a huge win for the state of Louisiana,” said PPHTD Executive Director Sandy Sanders. “Along with our partners American Patriot Holdings and Louisiana 23 Development Company, Plaquemines Port has engineered a logistics business model to attract private investment dollars and new cargo to Louisiana.”