Port Of Catoosa Seeing Record-Breaking Business

Sunday, May 20th 2012, 5:52 pm
By: Tess Maune

If projections for the 2012 Oklahoma wheat harvest turn out to be true - it could make for a banner year for the Port of Catoosa. Wheat farmers say they are getting some 30 to 40 bushels per acre this year compared to just nine per acre last season.

It's already been a big year for the Port of Catoosa. Director Bob Portis says on any given weekday, the place is bustling with business.

"I mean, everything seems, the stars are aligned up just right -- let's just hope it continues," Portis said. 

"There's about 2 million tons a year of cargo coming in and out of here by water alone."

This year, they've already met half that number. For the first time in history - the waterway shipped 1 million tons of cargo before the month of June.

5/17/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma's Port Of Catoosa Sets New Shipping Record

Right now the energy industry is driving that high number.

"We're moving crude oil to the tune of probably over 100,000 barrels a month, and petroleum equipment - oil field-related equipment is moving out by the tons," he said.

Portis says the record-breaking number is easy to explain.

"The economy nationwide, not good. Energy prices are high. Barge transportation is our cheapest form of surface transportation," said Port of Catoosa Director Bob Portis.

Cheap, yes. And it also comes with some hauling power.

To give you an idea: each barge holds 1,200 tons, that's equivalent to 60 semi-trailer trucks worth of material. Twelve barges are pushed out at a time.

"So, a towboat with a crew of 10 is pushing the equivalent of 720 semis trailer trucks. That's why it's cheap," Portis said.

Grain will be the next big push - Portis hopes that will help surpass the record-breaking year in 1980 when the port shipped 2.2 million tons of cargo.

People say, ‘I had no idea,' and I say, 'of course you wouldn't,'" he said.

Not bad for a place Portis considers to be Tulsa's best kept secret.

Portis says to put things in perspective, it's cheaper to ship three bushels of grain - that would be about 180 pounds - to the Gulf by water than it is to buy a first class postage stamp.