Pittsburgh-area companies that ship containerized cargo will soon be able to utilize a Container-on-Barge (COB) service that will start May 2.
CSG Company, LLC, an industrial supply chain service provider, and the Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) have announced the start.
“We are excited about the opportunities the COB service opens for many more companies in the Upper Ohio River Valley,” says Buddy Johns, president of CSG. The service will operate twice each month from Pittsburgh to New Orleans and back to Pittsburgh.
Johns said that crowded ports on both coasts and rising fuel costs are moving more traffic to New Orleans, where the Napoleon Container Yard was opened last year, and Biloxi, both with easy access to the Mississippi and Ohio river systems.
“Traditionally, barge service was appropriate for companies wanting to ship as much as 800 tons of product, such as coal, steel, plastics and other raw materials. Recognizing we had smaller shippers in the region, the PPC conducted a COB Pre-Feasibility Study and identified all of the opportunities and pitfalls," said James McCarville, executive director of the PPC.
COB loads are measured in TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, the capacity of a standard container that people now see moving on the highway or railway. About 60-70 of these containers can fit on a barge, said McCarville.
CSG has activated the region’s only Third-Party Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) for its Leetsdale Terminal. For shippers, the advantages of an FTZ are primarily financial, wherein nduty is paid to the US government until the merchandise leaves the FTZ and enters US commerce, and when products are manufactured in the FTZ from imported materials, duties are paid only on the amount of material used in the finished product, rather than the total amount, including scrap.
“COB service is also especially appropriate for very heavy shipments that have been traditionally difficult to haul over land, such as industrial chemicals and forest products," said McCarville.
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