September 16, 2013

West Memphis celebrates official opening of $5 million warehouse facility

With the opening of a new 30,000-square-foot storage and shipment warehouse, the Port of West Memphis has taken another step on the road to fulfilling its potential as a hub for large-scale distribution and import/export activity.

City leaders joined officials from Kinder Morgan and Transammonia, Inc. on Thursday, Sept. 12 to cut the ribbon on the $5 million facility that will serve as a distribution hub for tens of thousands of tons of fertilizer bound for customers across the country.

Energy company Kinder Morgan operates ports across the country, including the Port of Memphis and the Port of West Memphis. Transammonia is a global merchandising and trading company that markets, distributes and transportsfertilizers, petrochemicals, liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) and other commodity products. The facility was built by Kinder Morgan specifically to meet the needs of Transammonia.

About 60 people attended the lunchtime event, where facility manager John McDowell explained that the companies have a 12-year relationship and that the warehouse was a result of six years of planning and work. The warehouse can store up to 9,000 tons of fertilizerai??i??shipped to the port by barge, offloaded by boom crane and transferred to truck for shipment.

Addressing the group before the ribbon cutting and a tour, Transammonia president Brent Hart said the company supplies material across the globe, but that in Eastern Arkansas alone, more than 30 counties are huge consumers of fertilizer, chiefly urea used in rice production.

After lunch, Hart explained that only a third of the roughly 9 million tons of urea used in the U.S. each year is produced domestically, so operations like the one in West Memphis are vitally important.

ai???We picked West Memphis because you have a deeper draft,ai??? he said. ai???If theyai??i??re out of business over in Memphis or anywhere else, product can be offloaded here. Itai??i??s all about

The Port of West Memphis is one of the few deep-water ports in the region and has never closed due to low water conditions.

Before Hart spoke, West Memphis economic development director Ward Wimbish told the group the new facility was just the beginning of a flurry of activity in store for the port. He was referring to plans to develop a logistics park at the port that will continue to grow the city’s logistics capabilities and establish it as hub for global import and export activity.

ai???This is the first,ai??? Wimbish said. ai???Iai??i??m sure that when we come over here in five years, none of us will recognize this

Plans for the WMEX RiverRail Hub include strengthening current rail to allow for heavier cargo loads and extend the existing rail spur by approximately 13,500 feet, allowing access to the port by truck and conveyor and provide for a multimodal transload facility to support expanded export cargoes of bulk commodities.