Coal Traffic Down, Petroleum Up on Ohio River
The State Journal
16 April 2015
By Jim Ross
Coal traffic was down on the Ohio River in the first quarter of
this year compared with last year, but shipments on the Kanawha
River were up.
And while coal shipments were down on the Ohio, movements of
petroleum and petroleum products was up from 20 to 45 percent on
various parts of the river.
The Willow Island Locks and Dam was the only one on the West
Virginia part of the Ohio to show an increase in total tonnage in
the quarter, and even that was less than a 1 percent increase. The
Racine Locks and Dam, located between Point Pleasant and
Ravenswood, handled the most tonnage, although its overall numbers
were down in the quarter.
The locks at Racine were shut down this past weekend when a coal
tow broke apart in high water. At least one barge went between two
piers in the dam and sank in the middle of the channel in the
first bend below the dam. Traffic was halted a couple of days
until the tow could be reassembled, and river traffic was
restricted while the sunken barge was raised.
In West Virginia, declines in coal shipments were steepest on the
Ohio at both ends of the state, from the New Cumberland Locks and
Dam in the north to the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam between Point
Pleasant and Huntington to the south.
West Virginia was not unique in the decline of coal shipments on
the Ohio. Coal numbers were down at all 20 locks and dams on the
river, from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois.
Shipments of petroleum and petroleum products, however, increased
on the entire length of the Ohio, with the greatest increases
coming in West Virginia's part of the river. Monthly tonnage
figures posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its locks
and dams do not differentiate between shipments of crude oil and
refined petroleum products.
Marathon Petroleum, which has a refinery at Catlettsburg,
Kentucky, near Huntington, has built a terminal at Wellsville,
Ohio, near Weirton, to ship crude oil from the Utica Shale to
Catlettsburg and its other refineries. Marathon would not comment
on how much crude it is moving by water and whether shipments of
refined products were up in the quarter.
“We typically don't provide comment on our crude oil and/or
refined product movements,” Jamil T. Kheiry, communications
manager, for Marathon Petroleum, said.
On the Kanawha River, a surge in coal shipments led to an overall
increase in total tonnage in the first quarter. Traffic through
the Marmet Locks and Dam showed particularly strong growth.
The Morgantown Locks and Dam on the Monongahela River handles
little traffic when compared with locks on the Ohio and Kanawha.
The Hildebrand and Opekiska locks on the Monongahela above
Morgantown are closed to navigation because of a long-term decline