Port of Beaumont
David Chris Fisher, Port Director & CEO
FTZ No. 115 • 1,000 total acres • nine berths • 600,000 sq. ft. warehouse space • 40-ft. channel • ICTF
Rail: BNSF, KCS, UP
Highways: IH-10, U.S. 90, Hwys 69, 96, 287
Top export destinations: Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico
Top export commodities: Bulk Grain, Metal Articles, Military
David “Chris” Fisher: The Port of Beaumont, we are primarily a break bulk and bulk port. We think that’s our niche. It’s what we specialize in. We know we’re not a big container port, but we’re fine with that because we know what we do well and that’s handle bulk and break bulk commodities. We handle everything from dry bulks, including grains and chemicals and minerals, and we’re also diversifying into liquid bulks with a state-of-the-art crude-by-rail facility. A lot of our break-bulk cargos are unitized forest products, iron and steel and then also heavy cargos and lower sized cargos such as wind energy cargos, project cargos for the petrochemical industry. One of our big claims of fame is that we are the No. 1 military cargo port probably in the world right now, and we have a lot of cargo for our military customers. We do that because it’s a RO/RO break bulk type of commodity that we are very good at handling.
Global Trade: With the military cargo, you probably know as little about that as possible, right?
Chris Fisher: Well, we treat our military customers just like a very good commercial customer and you take care of your customer and so that relationship has worked out very well for the Port of Beaumont and that’s why we’ve kind of been in that business for such a long time. We can work very closely with the military and, of course, we don’t divulge as much about military cargos as we do about our other cargos, that’s true, but it’s a very good partnership. We also have the headquarters here for the 842nd Transportation Battalion, which actually governs all of the military cargo movements through the Gulf and the Pacific Northwest.
Global Trade: When you’re talking about your grain shipments, about from how far away do you think those originate to come to the Port of Beaumont?
Chris Fisher: We have great rail connections here in Beaumont. BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern interchange directly here at the port facility, so they come pretty much from all over the Midwest.
Probably pretty close to the Canadian border. I don’t know if we get any Canadian wheat or not, but we could; but it’s all over the midwestern United States as far north as you can go. Our elevator is primarily a rail elevator, so it comes in by train and then, of course, we export it pretty much all over the world. The other thing I would like to say about the port when we talk about what we do handling break bulk and bulk cargos is when we talk about our diversification and going into liquid bulk and other commodities, we try to be a very diversified port. We have recently completed about a $67 million capital expansion program, about $28 million of that was new rail infrastructure on both sides of the river. We’re on Jefferson County and we also are now on Orange County, and we’ve got about a little over 1,000 acres; we’re developing or we have developed about 500 acres of that. In addition to what we spent, we are now working with various public/private partnerships leveraging private investment of between $150 million to $200 million, in addition to what we spent on our master plan that we just completed, and we are getting ready to enter into a new master plan where we have another $180 million worth of improvements on the drawing board to start our new master plan that we expect the board to approve this month.
Global Trade: Now when you’re increasing your liquid bulk, are you putting in new infrastructure for that or did you have it in place and just your sales are increasing there?
Chris Fisher: We’re putting all new infrastructure in, and most of that is occurring at our Orange County terminal. That’s a brand new terminal that we’ve opened up on the Orange County side of the Neches River. Our traditional facilities have been on the Jefferson County side of the river and so it’s in that 240-acre parcel that basically was a green site and it’s all new development that started with our 2006 master plan. New dock facilities have been constructed. New rail has been constructed; rail loops with access to the three major rail carriers that serve the port. The port has spent about $40 million over there in roadway, rail and dock infrastructure and then we have five partners that are spending about another $150 million over there and then we are also working with private partnerships on Jefferson County that spent roughly another $50 million. We are putting in all the basic infrastructure and so it’s new infrastructure for this diversification into liquid bulk.
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