Brownwater and Heavy Transport: Moving OOG Cargo by Barge and Road
Low water, high water, weight restrictions, scarce labor, and scarce equipment all serve to complicate the seemingly straightforward movement of out-of-gauge and breakbulk cargo by barge in the US. Following several seasons of dangerously high water on the lower Mississippi, water at once-in-a-century lows stymied cargo movement on the river system for weeks in late 2022, while the labor shortages triggered by the pandemic market are a problem with no end in sight. The hand-off from barge to heavy-haul or specialized transportation also must be managed, often at remote sites with little or no infrastructure in place. Transportation delays and complications caused by these factors increase risks for shippers who must, in many cases, meet demanding project schedules or face costly penalties. In addition, brownwater service providers, like their bluewater brethren, must incorporate increasingly stringent emissions control and decarbonization requirements into their operations. In this roundtable session, service providers and cargo shippers will delve into the problems of OOG river transportation in the US.