The Tulsa Port and the inland waterway system allows Oklahoma companies to be competitive with fabricators located along the Gulf coast.
There are 25,000 miles of inland river systems used for transportation in the United States. Just like trucks are transporting goods on the highways and trains are transporting goods on the rail system, towboats pushing barges are transporting goods on this “highway of water.” The Tulsa Port is head of navigation for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System running from Tulsa to the Mississippi River.
One of the many types of commodities shipped on the waterway and through the Tulsa Port is something called project cargo. Project cargo is large, heavy, over-sized, high value or critical pieces of equipment. These types of products are manufactured by many companies in Northeast Oklahoma and the surrounding states. Using the river system and the Tulsa Port is vital to the success and profitability of these manufacturers. During the last three years, over seventeen thousand tons of project cargo, equipment like cracking towers and heaters for refineries, have moved through the Tulsa Port’s low water wharf.
The port’s main dock has a modern, 200-ton traveling crane that can handle the majority of standard barge cargo needs. However, project cargo equipment is often so large or heavy that it exceeds the crane’s capability. That’s when the Port’s low water wharf is used. There is no cargo too big or too heavy for the Tulsa Port because of the Port’s “Ro/Ro,” (Roll on, Roll off) or Low Water Wharf. This asset allows for heavy shipments to be moved directly on to, or off of deck barges, allowing access to the river system for the largest and heaviest project cargo.
Earlier this year, Barnhart, one of the largest heavy lift and heavy transport organizations in the United States, utilized the Tulsa Port’s “Ro/Ro” to ship three pieces of equipment for a refinery in Beaumont, Texas. These pieces of equipment were built here in Tulsa by Heater Specialist of Tulsa, LLC (HSI) and shipped, via water, at a combined weight of 570,000 pounds.
“Being able to transport this type of equipment via the Tulsa Port is vital to the existence of HSI and many other fabricators in the Tulsa Area,” said Alan Jackson, President of HSI. “These units could not be economically shipped via truck to the refinery due to over-the-road restrictions on weight, height and length.”