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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Good News from the Port of New Orleans

The Port of New Orleans is coming back ahead of schedule:

Port Comes Back Early, Surprisingly, by Keith L. Alexander and Neil Irwin, Washington Post:  The Port of New Orleans began unloading its first cargo ship ... months sooner than was predicted, a sign that disruption to the nation's shipping capacity may be less severe than originally forecast.

[One Update]

After the storm, port officials figured it would take six months to resume service in New Orleans and at facilities throughout the Gulf Coast. Importers scurried to reroute ... commodities, and Midwest farmers worried that they wouldn't be able to ship their grain to the rest of the world during the harvest... But Tuesday, the port was coming back to life, with electrical power restored to parts of the facility by late afternoon. ... Gary P. LaGrange, chief executive of the port, said he expects it to be at 80 percent of capacity within three months. The Port of South Louisiana and Port Fourchon, on the Gulf Coast, have also partially restored service, and the Port of Pascagoula, Miss., expects to resume service by early October, according to the American Association of Port Authorities. ... That doesn't mean the economy is in the clear ... there are no guarantees that [progress] will continue at this pace, analysts said. ... Nonetheless, the work at the Port of New Orleans proceeded at full speed Tuesday ... The faster-than-expected reopening came about through some bureaucratic arm-twisting, coordination between groups, and a careful focus on the most urgent areas for repair, said LaGrange and outside analysts. "They're moving at light speed," said C. James Kruse, director of the Center for Ports and Waterways at the Texas Transportation Administration. "It's been an example of good cooperation between federal agencies and the port authority, and an action plan to get to the critical things first and fix other problems later." ... The port also collaborated with the dockworkers' union, the International Longshoremen's Association, to bring in workers from other ports. LaGrange said it was necessary because most Port of New Orleans employees were forced to leave the area and could not be located. And state police are guarding the access roads from hijackers, and agreed to give truck drivers delivering goods to and from the port clearance to deliver their loads...

Update:  After good news on the Port of New Orleans, bad preliminary news on natural gas production:

US natural gas production ‘crippled for months’, by Sheila McNulty, FT:  Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck one of the world’s most important natural gas producing regions, 35 per cent of Gulf of Mexico production remains off-line, and analysts say gas production there will remain “crippled for months”... Some analysts predict natural gas prices will average $12 per thousand cubic feet this winter – double the cost last winter. ... Last week the Industrial Energy Consumers of America trade association asked Congress to remove environmental barriers to new areas of production. They note that while high petrol prices have hurt consumers by increasing transportation costs, high natural gas prices have a stronger impact because they raise the cost of heating while also affecting industrial competitiveness and jobs. ... Alternatives to natural gas could come under pressure as well. ... Much will depend upon the state of the four refineries believed to be most damaged. There has been little information so far, but analysts suspect they suffered extensive damage and will be shut for months. ... Deepwater assessments remain preliminary ... but companies are reporting more than 37 shelf platforms destroyed and 12 others significantly damaged. Several natural gas processing plants have suffered direct damage, and outages could last for months...

    Posted by on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 01:17 AM in Economics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (0)

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