Mergers and Acquisitions

Southern, Devall Integrate Operations, Plan Ammonia Initiative

Southern Towing, a portfolio company of Chicago-based CC Industries, and Sulphur, La.-based Devall Towing have announced the pending operations and management integration of the two companies. The formal joining of the two companies is expected to conclude in the second half of 2023, with the new company operating under the name Southern Devall.

The combination of the two companies will seek to capitalize on Devall’s operations in the Gulf Coast region and Southern Towing’s work upriver “to provide integrated marine transportation solutions across the entire U.S. inland and coastal waterway system,” the companies said in a joint announcement. The move also brings together both companies’ fleets, which will now include 230 barges, 70 towboats and 700 employees.

“We are excited about the opportunities ahead,” said Kenny Devall, who will be CEO of Southern Devall. “Both Southern and Devall were established as family-owned companies that share the same core values and vision. We look forward to building on that foundation as we invest in and grow the new company.”

The new company will be a “one-stop shop” on the inland waterways, the companies said.

Devall was founded in 1952 in Sulphur. With a focus on the chemical market, Devall has two subsidiaries. Devall Fleeting operates fleets in both Louisiana and Texas, and Devall Diesel Services acts as a dealership and service center for diesel engines. Southern, founded in 1958, is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and is one of the largest carriers of liquid fertilizers.

Ammonia To Power

On the heels of Southern and Devall’s announcement about integrating their operations into one company, they also have announced a partnership with Amogy, a New York-based company that has developed an ammonia-to-power system. Amogy’s system converts ammonia into hydrogen to use in fuel cells and/or as a pilot fuel for the use of ammonia in an internal combustion engine. 

Through the partnership, Amogy will integrate its ammonia-derived power system into a tank barge in the Southern Devall fleet. Amogy will retrofit a Southern Devall barge with its power system by the end of 2023. In place of a conventional diesel genset, the initial deployment will involve using an Amogy power pack to generate the power needed to reliquefy ammonia during the course of a voyage. Southern Devall already transports and delivers ammonia to terminals along the inland waterways.

“Amogy has built an impressive platform that our team believes is an ideal solution for introducing cost-efficient, zero-carbon bunkering and powering operations to the inland barge industry,” said Sam Lewis, Southern Devall’s vice president of engineering. “Adopting their solution at scale in our fleet has both environmental and economic benefits through increased delivery volume. We look forward to demonstrating the value of ammonia-to-power solutions in our first project with Amogy and introducing industry and channel partners to these innovations.”

Amogy and Southern Devall plan to build on the demonstration project by retrofitting additional barges and vessels to grow an ammonia-powered fleet for both transportation and bunkering.

“Southern Devall shares Amogy’s passion for driving innovation, making them the perfect strategic partner to support our commercial entrance to the U.S. maritime market,” Amogy CEO Seonghoon Woo said. “In collaboration with their team, we’ll have a first-mover advantage in this space through expanded access to the ammonia infrastructure and industry knowledge, setting us on track to demonstrate our platform’s operational capabilities in large maritime vessels.”

Founded in 2020, Amogy has rapidly scaled up its power generation system from a 5 kW drone flight in July 2021 to a 100 kW tractor demonstration this past May. Besides the partnership with Southern Devall, Amogy also plans to apply its technology to a 300 kW truck application this year and to power an oceangoing containership within the next three years.