Plaquemines Port Signs LOI on Proposed Container Mega-Terminal

Proposed container terminal site (Plaquemines Port file image)

Published Aug 13, 2020 1:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Plaquemines Port has signed a letter of intent with several potential partners to develop a new greenfield container terminal in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, about 50 miles inland from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and 20 miles downriver from Port of New Orleans. 

The plan calls for a 1,000-acre site - rivaling the Shanghai Yangshan complex in surface area - with 8,200 feet of frontage on the Mississippi River. The partners intend for the terminal to be powered by a combination of LNG and electricity. 

As designed, the facility would be able to handle 22,000 TEU Megamax-24 vessels, making it one of the few ports in the Americas capable of receiving and serving the world's largest boxships. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently works to maintain a MLLW channel depth of 45-47 feet on the Mississippi River Ship Channel, subject to periodic shoaling, and it will begin work to deepen the channel to 50 feet next year. When fully laden, 14,000 TEU Neopanamax boxships draw roughly 50 feet; the maximum draft of the 22,000-plus Jacques Saade-class and MSC Gulsun-class Megamax boxships is in the range of 52 feet.

One of the LOI partners, American Patriot Holdings, has plans to build a 2,375 TEU feeder vessel to carry transshipped cargo up the Mississippi as far north as St. Louis. The design provides for an 11-knot service speed upriver with LNG-powered propulsion. Additional 1,700 TEU feeders would add transshipment service on the Mississippi's tributaries, reaching out to Jefferson City, Little Rock, Memphis, Joliet, Kansas City, Cairo and Western Arkansas. The network would support Midwest export cargoes like agricultural products and chemical resins. 

"This will be the pateway port on the Gulf Coast capable of taking full advantage of the distribution network on the Mississippi and tributary rivers while reducing road congestion in the region," said Plaquemines Port executive director Sandy Sanders.

The project's private developer and backer is Louisiana 23 Development Company, LLC (Devco), led by infrastructure engineering executive Chris Fetters. Devco is responsible for the funding and construction of the facility. 

The new LOI marks the start of a six-month due diligence period, after which the partners expect to take a final investment decision.