Port, operator to start contract talks early

Published 11:21 am Thursday, June 19, 2014

Talks apparently will begin early between Port of Vicksburg officials and representatives of Kinder Morgan to extend the company’s contract to operate port facilities.

In October, the five-member Warren County Port Commission voted to tack one more year onto the Houston-based terminals operator’s recurring deal to oversee the crane support platform and ancillary buildings at Port Terminal Circle. The previous contract was inked for 2012; the current extension runs through December.

Updates this week on port activity ended with a request of the company to come up with a figure that would keep a presence in Vicksburg in 2015. Port director Wayne Mansfield asked the company to “come up with a proposal” in time for next month’s meeting.

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Lease terms call for the company to pay $135,000 in base rent plus 8 percent if revenue tops $1 million. The incentive jumps to 15 percent if revenue reaches $1.4 million.

The port showed signs of slowing down this spring after a busy 2012 and 2013, years in which revenue surpassed $2 million, mainly from a contract with DuPont to ship steel through the port. Revenue from March through May totaled $260,870, down from $609,584 in the same period in 2013. About 58 percent of the 17,729 net tons unloaded in May was corn screenings, with the rest hot briquetted iron, steel coils and ammonium nitrate.

Expanding the at-capacity port and purchasing a new overhead crane remain long-term goals — albeit expensive, estimated up to about $10 million. A new crane to replace the 15-ton crane used at the port since the 1990s and lift heavier loads makes up about half that cost.

“It has limited us in what we’ve wanted to do,” said Todd Jones, the firm’s local sales representative.

Two improvements in and near the port were in varying stages of development this week. One, to replace concrete at the T-dock crane support platform, got underway this spring. A second, a multimillion-dollar effort to shore up the foundation of Haining Road, the lone access road to the port, is the subject of a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Monday.