Coal Shipments on Ohio River Stabilizing From Decline
The State Journal
15 October 2015
By Jim Ross
The decline in coal shipments on the Ohio River along the West
Virginia border has reversed somewhat in many places, and the
growth rate of crude oil and petroleum products has slowed.
An analysis of cargo volumes at the seven locks and dams along the
Ohio in West Virginia shows more coal moved through the locks at
six of the seven dams, with only the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam
between Point Pleasant and Huntington showing a decline compared
with the third quarter of 2014.
Year-to-date, however, only the locks at Belleville and
Racine moved more coal this year than last, and both showed
increases of less than 1 percent.
The two dams at the far ends of the state — New Cumberland and
Robert C. Byrd — showed the largest percentage decreases, at 12.2
percent and 16.4 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, shipments of crude oil and refined petroleum products
had showed double-digit percentage increases at all seven locks
and dams in the first two quarters of this year. In the third
quarter, only New Cumberland and Willow Island showed that kind of
growth over last year. Still, for the first three quarters
combined, all seven dams showed increases, from 14.2 percent at
Robert C. Byrd to 8.2 percent at New Cumberland.
Although petroleum shipments are increasing while coal is
struggling, coal remains the dominant material shipped on the
Ohio. Calculated by tons of material moved, petroleum volumes
range from 14 percent of coal volumes at Hannibal to 35 percent at
Robert C. Byrd.
Coal shipments are strongest on the part of the river from the
mouth of the Kanawha River at Point Pleasant up to the Hannibal
Locks and Dam at New Martinsville. Petroleum product shipments are
strongest in the lower part of the Ohio and decrease as they move
Marathon Petroleum Co., which has a refinery at Catlettsburg,
Kentucky, near Huntington, uses the Ohio and Kanawha rivers to
move its products to terminals for further distribution. Marathon
also uses the river to move crude oil from the Utica Shale region
of eastern Ohio to its refineries.