Latest Omega Morgan News
Feb 8, 2021
The Port of Longview saw its breakbulk volumes rise 12 percent in 2020, while shipments through the Northwest Seaport Alliance (pictured) jumped 18 percent. Photo credit: NWSA. Breakbulk volumes surged through Washington state ports during 2020, with high-and-heavy cargoes an outlier in terms of growth at the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) ports of Seattle and Tacoma and the Port of Longview benefiting from a diversion of wind energy cargoes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the unexpected exit of a key log export customer, Longview’s total breakbulk volumes 12 percent to 7.6 million metric tons (mt) for the year, according to Laurie Nelson-Cooley, manager of business development for the port. “2020 actually started off slow during the first half of the year due to COVID-19,” Nelson-Cooley told JOC.com. But during the second half of the year, the port benefitted from a Canadian wind project that included 43 complete wind turbines. That cargo was originally bound for a different US west coast port, but was diverted due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on labor availability at that port, Frank DeVries, vice president of operations with Pinnacle Logistics, the Ontario-based forwarder that managed transportation for the project, told JOC.com. Cargo for the Canadian project, which included 129 wind blades, each 235 feet long, and 172 tower sections, arrived from Asia on seven G2 Ocean vessels over the course of four months, was transloaded to Foss Maritime barges by Omega Morgan and moved up the Columbia-Snake River system for unloading at the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, where it was put into trucks for the final leg to Ardenville, Alberta, Canada, Nelson-Cooley said. Nelson-Cooney said the wind farm moves showcased the viability of the region’s High, Wide and Heavy Corridor Coalition , an organization of regional service providers that have developed a multi-modal inland trade route aimed at attracting project and breakbulk cargo bound for Gulf and Canadian ports to the Pacific Northwest. A ‘highly skilled and diverse commodity type’ Just 130 miles to the north, the NWSA’s terminals in Seattle and Tacoma handled 291,623 mt of breakbulk in 2020, an 18.3 percent gain from 2019 and the highest total in five years, Andre Elmaleh, senior manager of business development for the alliance, told JOC.com. That growth came even as total domestic and international tonnage, including containerized goods, tumbled 10.7 percent to 26.8 million mt for the year. “From March to August, our [container] volumes were down because of COVID-19, but we rebounded sharply at the end of the year,” Elmaleh said. “Our December was 6 percent higher compared with December of 2019, a record for us.” Unlike at Longview, the majority of the breakbulk flowing through the NWSA is high-and-heavy cargo that moves on roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) vessels, including machinery and agricultural, construction, forestry, and mining equipment, and automobiles, with imports representing approximately 80 percent of the breakbulk cargo mix. “We handle a small percentage of rare automobiles, helicopters, airplanes, and even World War II tanks,” Elmaleh said. For port labor, handling break has the added benefit of being a “highly skilled and diverse commodity type. Our longshoremen do not know what they get on a day to day basis and it is the highest creator of jobs on a per acre basis,” Elmaleh said. NWSA has two reach stackers now in operation at East Blair Terminal in Tacoma, giving the port the capacity to lift 40 mt or 80 mt in tandem, which covers 95 percent of the breakbulk cargo handled at the port. “If we need a heavier lift, we can bring in cranes from companies like Omega Morgan, who come on site and perform heavy lift on commodities like transformers which are outside our lifting capability,” he said. With 50 acres available for use as laydown space, NWSA is also targeting wind energy cargoes, but as Elmaleh noted, “with wind it takes years to develop that commodity because of the long lead times for projects — engineering, ordering, etc. You can’t just flip a switch and tomorrow you get the cargo.” Contact special correspondent Chris Barnett at email@example.com .