Located on the Mississippi River, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is strategically located to provide crucial access to the nation’s heartland via nearly 15,000 miles of inland water transportation, as well as to the Gulf of Mexico and ocean trade lanes to Latin America and beyond. Consequently, the port is an integral part of the national maritime industry and a significant player in developing Louisiana’s economy. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge now is one of the top ports in the US dealing with a significant tonnage of cargo every single day.
Before 1920, Greater Baton Rouge was just a docking facility which consisted of wooden wharves along the Mississippi River Edge but had no levee system. However, as the river levels were relatively stable, the port made docking at the port simple and efficient for mooring. Therefore in 1926, the Greater Baton Rouge Municipal Dock was completed on the east bank of the Mississippi bringing greater cargo docking possibilities to the region, which in 1952 saw new legislation introduced to establish the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission. Then just 2 years later construction began on a general cargo dock, grain elevator, and a grain dock on the west bank of the river allowing the port to begin to play a vital role in Louisiana’s growing economy.
Today, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge provides a wide range of products and services including the handling of forest, agricultural, steel, pipe, and petroleum products, as well as ores and coals and bulk and liquid bulk chemicals. Due to the port’s diverse shipping options via its vast network of water and road links, the port has established itself a reputation for outstanding service. This service is backed by the Port’s highly experienced business development staff which are on hand to transfer products and various types of cargo in a timely, safe, and secure way. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge’s commitment to excellence for its customers has earned the port a reputation for productivity and damage-free cargo handling that you can rely on.
Facilities at the port include deepwater docks, export grain elevators, liquid bulk terminals, midstream buoys and anchorage, warehousing, inland river terminal and a range of different facilities to make sure the port efficiently moves cargo to benefit the local region and continues to develop Louisiana for continued future development. Currently, the Port has 4 deep-water draft ships which can berth and unload/load at the same time. However, the Port has recently undertaken a $15 million rehabilitation project which aims to rehabilitate an existing fifth berth at the northernmost end of existing deepwater docks. The project has been designed, approved, and partially funded. It is the first major berth expansion since the completion of the Port’s doc extension in 1986.
The port today is known for its growth and expansion, which has seen its jurisdiction expand to include Pointe Coupee Parish which includes the Port of Pointe Coupee in Lensworth, as well as the ‘old ferry landing’ on the west side of the Mississippi River. The Port of Greater Baton Rouge has seen in recent years American Queen Voyages making regular stops at the landing, which takes passengers on excursions around the parish and across the river to St. Francisville and West Feliciana Paris. Furthermore, American Cruise Lines and Viking River Cruises began departing from the port in 2022. The port was attractive to these companies due to its commitment to upgrading and improving the old ferry landing to make it better for passenger traffic and the coach buses which transport visitors to places of interest in nearby towns. The profitability of the port has seen a significant boost in tourism across Greater Baton Rouge.
The port is looking to expand its facilities to enable port partners to increase capabilities and create more economic opportunities. The port is currently undertaking plans to rehabilitate and expand its northernmost deepwater berth in Mississippi with the aim of increasing its ship size capabilities and making docking into the existing deepwater berth safer. Currently, berths at the port have been experiencing increased congestion with the increasing demand for cargo across Mississippi. Therefore, additional infrastructure is needed to service the growing demand for liquid bulk commodities. Funding for the dock facilities expansion is in place and is permitted with work being completed and hopes to increase container handling. However, The Port is requesting more funding from the US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) as well as other funding sources which hopes to see more efficient affixed container handling pieces of equipment to increase port container handling facilities of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Looking towards the future, an exciting development for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is Grön Fuels, a Fidelis company, which announced on Earth Day 2021 the development of a $9.2 billion carbon-negative renewable fuel complex at the port. The facility will be designed to be the world’s largest sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel production facility. Construction commenced in 2022 and is hoped to achieve full commercial operation by 2025. Renewable energy for the port is a key development, and so Grön Fuels will be using proven and bankable technologies from renowned global technology providers to manufacture sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and renewable diesel (RD). The facility is also planned to produce other renewable materials, as well as green hydrogen.
The project will be completed in conjunction with its on-site 200MegaWatt (MW) renewable carbon-negative electric power plants will produce carbon-negative SAF and RD. The entire system at the Port is the flagship Fidelis Climate GigaSystem™ and is expected to mitigate over one gigaton of carbon dioxide from facilities located at the Port over the production facility’s lifetime. Construction at Grön Fuels LLC is anticipated to begin in 2023.
As we have seen the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is an expansive operation that has seen such a strategically located port continue to expand its operations to develop towards a more sustainable future that is critically concerned with ensuring that the importing and transporting of cargo across the port is consistent. The port is continually committed to refurbishing its existing infrastructure and developing further berths to be able to continue to meet the demands of the future. Consequently, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge continues to play a significant role in developing Mississippi and the port towards continued economic success.