A barge that sank late Tuesday in the Calcasieu Ship Channel (CSC) of Louisiana is one of three obstructions that need to be removed before deep draft vessel traffic, including tankers carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG), is allowed to resume, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Shipping

In addition to the barge that sank in the area of 38 Buoy on the bar channel, an oil rig and a recreational boat would need to be removed from the CSC before the 25-foot maximum draft restriction is lifted, the Army Corps said. 

Spokesperson Ricky Boyett told NGI that the recreational boat was “not that deep in the water,” so crews expected to remove it “pretty quickly.” The oil rig was to be removed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the rig’s owner, which was not identified.

Once the obstructions are removed, the Army Corps has to conduct hydrographic surveys to determine how much shoaling resulted from Hurricane Delta. “That will tell us how much sediment has to be removed before deep draft traffic can resume,” Boyett said.

In a stroke of “bad luck,” dredging following Hurricane Laura was nearly complete in the channel when Delta made landfall last Friday (Oct. 9). Boyett said there was a “strong potential” that Delta would put dredging back at square one for the bar channel allowing entrance into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We hope to get a better idea today on when those obstructions can be removed,” Boyett said.

Ultimately, the USCG would determine when deep draft traffic may resume in the CSC.

Cameron LNG had been ramping up production after shutting down operations ahead of Delta last week, and Bloomberg data indicated there was a vessel waiting to dock at the terminal. Feed gas deliveries to the facility were at 630 MMcf on Wednesday, according to NGI’s U.S. LNG Export Tracker.

Some traders appeared pessimistic about the timeline for recovery in LNG exports from the facility. November New York Mercantile Exchange futures prices were sharply lower Wednesday morning, down nearly 20 cents to around $2.660/MMBtu.

Analysts at EBW Analytics Group said the decline in gas prices began in after-hours trading once news spread of the barge sinking. “The time frame for reopening the channel is not yet known, but reopening today seems unlikely, and an extended delay is possible.”