Calcasieu Ship Channel
The Calcasieu Ship Channel was formed by channelization of the Calcasieu River from Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico—36 miles—and an additional 32 miles out into the Gulf.
The channel was created to provide deep-water access for maritime commerce. A look at the channel today reinforces the theory of “build it and they will come”; dozens of industrial plants now line the channel, primarily refineries and petrochemical companies, bringing raw materials in, and shipping products out via the channel. Many more facilities that rely on the channel are planned, and some are already under construction.
With the recent addition of natural gas installations, the Calcasieu Ship Channel has become one of the nation’s most active “energy corridors.”
The Calcasieu Ship Channel:
- Carries 7.5% of the nation’s daily oil consumption.
- Is home to the nation’s sixth-largest refinery.
- Is home to two of the nation’s largest liquefied natural gas facilities.
- Handles 56 million tons of cargo annually.
- The area stores one-third of the U.S.’s strategic petroleum reserve.
- The area holds a complex of energy pipelines and the Henry Hub, a major natural gas hub for the U.S.
With such critical cargo depending on the channel, its depth and width must be maintained by regular dredging. The Port of Lake Charles is the sponsor of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, acting on behalf of the state of Louisiana, which means it is responsible for providing disposal locations for dredged material and sharing the cost when those disposal site require major rehabilitation.