Port Manatee fuel operations expanding
PALMETTO, Fla. - Fuel operations at Port Manatee are undergoing significant expansion, with additional capacity and a long-term contract extension expected to further increase liquid bulk cargo volumes at the port while supporting growth of RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.'s Florida presence.
An 80,000-barrel tank is slated to re-enter service in mid-2017, to bring total active capacity of TransMontaigne Partners L.P. at Port Manatee to 1.5 million barrels. In conjunction with the tank recommissioning, TransMontaigne's entire light oil contract at Port Manatee is being extended for five years from the date the tank goes back into service, according to Fred Boutin, chief executive officer of the Denver-based fuel terminaling and transport firm.
"Separately, we entered into an agreement with 200,000 barrels of previously uncontracted storage capacity at our Port Manatee terminal," said Boutin, who, in a Nov. 8 corporate earnings call, noted that TransMontaigne is making an investment of about $2.5 million in Florida assets.
Officials of Atlanta-based RaceTrac are encouraged by the developments.
"The expanding operational capacity at Port Manatee is important to RaceTrac's fuel transportation business," said Max McBrayer, chief supply officer for RaceTrac. "These recent improvements will allow us to deliver fuel more efficiently to our always-expanding store presence in Florida and, in particular, the more than 25 RaceTrac stores in the southwest area of the state."
Betsy Benac, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, commented, "Port Manatee's growing role as the Port of Southwest Florida gains a further boost with the expansion of operations at our regional fuel hub, with increasing liquid bulk cargo volume translating to higher port revenues as well as more high-paying jobs for our community."
Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee's executive director, said, "Port Manatee's liquid bulk flow already is enjoying unprecedented growth, and we look forward to this dynamic trend continuing."
In the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Port Manatee received 4.5 million barrels of petroleum products, more than three times such volume in the preceding 12-month period. (One barrel of fuel equates to 42 gallons of capacity.) Even without the capacity increase, as many as 2,500 tanker trucks a month now depart the port.
Located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico," Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal and Cuba's Port of Mariel, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.
Significant expansion and long-term extension of TransMontaigne's Port Manatee operations bode to increase flow of fuels to RaceTrac stores in Florida.