Work is now underway for a Kinder Morgan soda ash export facility at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 4. The work, which includes the installation of a new ship loader, removal of an outmoded structure and dredging alongside the docks, is expected to be complete in September.
Kinder Morgan committed to buy and install the new ship loader at Terminal 4 in 2012 while negotiating a new 10-year lease extension that went into effect at the start of 2013. The work is expected to cost about $9.5 million.
Kinder Morgan has managed soda ash export operations at Terminal 4 since 1998 – and under a different name when the mineral bulk facility was originally constructed in 1987. The product is exported by the world’s largest soda ash exporter, American Natural Soda Ash Corp. (ANSAC), which operates as the sales, marketing and logistics arm for three US producers of natural soda ash.
Soda ash is used in the manufacture of glass and detergents. It’s exported through Portland to countries around the world and is mined in Green River, Wyoming, home of the largest known natural deposits in the world.
Soda ash arrives in Portland loaded on trains and is then stored in a covered structure until it’s loaded onto bulk cargo ships via a ship loader conveyor system. That ship loader portion of the conveyor system is being replaced by a state of the art, high capacity loader that’s expected to increase productivity and efficiency.
In September, maintenance dredging is scheduled at the ship berths to allow unimpeded access for ships leaving Terminal 4 fully loaded. Since 2008, about 5,000 cubic yards of new sediments have accumulated to the degree that its 40-foot operating depth is close to being compromised, according to Portland. The work is being conducted under contract by the port, per its lease agreement with Kinder Morgan.