Port of Catoosa handles 75 millionth ton of cargo
By: Kyle Arnold Tulsa World
A 1,460-ton load of steel coils shipped in last month was a weighty milestone for the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.
The port has also handled the shipment of crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico when the spread on oil prices was large enough to make a profit on shipping up the waterway.
It’s a long road since the first shipment came into the port 43 years ago, carrying 650 tons of newsprint destined for the Tulsa World.
Cargill Metal Services Plant Manager Stephen Walker said that the steel was headed to its plant at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, where it is flattened and cut into sheets to be sold to local manufacturers.
“Our big market for foils around here is oil and gas, that’s our No. 1 sector,” Walker said.
The port itself is one of the reasons that manufacturing can thrive in the Tulsa region, with cheap products heading up and down the waterway. According to port studies, shipping industrial products such as steel down the waterway is about 15 percent cheaper than other methods.
A waterway barge can handle about 60 coils of steel, whereas a rail car can handle about four coils and a semi-truck just one.
Cargill has 35 employees at its Tulsa plant and also supplies industrial manufacturers such as agriculture equipment makers.
The port was built during the 1960s as one of the nation’s most inland waterways. The total cost was just over $21 million when it was finished in 1971. Since then the park has been self-sustaining, paying for upgrades, roads and new projects with rents levied on tenants at the park.
In 2013 the port handled just over 2.7 million tons of cargo inbound and outbound, one barge shy of the all-time record set the year before.
Port officials are working on new upgrades to the dock that could double the capacity for dry cargo shipments. That $12.3 million upgrade project should be finished sometime in late 2015.