Page 18: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (November 1977)
Future Opportunities And
Problems Of The Barge Industry
The energy and cost effectiveness of barg- ing supports an upbeat outlook for the in- dustry, but "nothing succeeds without effort and nothing can be taken for granted," a leading barge executive said in speaking to a Houston, Texas, Marine Insurance Semi- nar. Archie L. Wilson, president of Dixie
Carriers, Inc., said he agreed that the ex- pansion of coal production "has been sharply oversold to the public." He said that the near-time substitute for natural gas for elec- tric utilities would most likely be residual oil. "Our studies indicate to us that, for the next several years, movements of residuals will continue to increase very dramatically.
Some of this increase will come from impor- tation of residuals. We can all agree, I think, that abundant cheap natural gas will no longer be available and for the immediate future, residual oils are the only practical substitute, and barging residuals the best method of transport," Mr. Wilson said. He reported that he was converting barge equip- ment to carry residual oil.
Reviewing some of the industry's prob- lems for insurance executives meeting at the
Houston Oakes Hotel, Mr. Wilson singled out the lack of stability in insurance. "Of great concern to the barge industry is the tendency of many insurance companies to vacillate more today than ever before. They go in and out of markets and, from the operator's vantage point, there seems to be little sta- bility," he said. "When insurance coverage is required and one is told that coverage is not available at any price — that the companies have made a decision to stop writing that coverage — that is pretty bad. I think Dixie is a good company with sound operating procedures, and that has happened to us," he said.
Mr. Wilson commented that liability for spills can be "frightening." He asked wheth- er exposures and penalties have become so great "that the government should either offer insurance or offer some other solution."
He cited an instance involving an accident by his company where the Coast Guard found
Dixie "not willfully or knowingly negligent," but tried to collect $954,000 in cleanup costs two years after the matter was thought to be closed. Mr. Wilson said the cleanup con- tractor recovered only 16 barrels of oil. "In fact, the water was running so fast that the cleanup was futile and a total waste of everyone's time and money." Uncertainty as to the government's position on such mat- ters is a major problem, Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Wilson supported the compromise bill,
H.R. 8309, for a 4-cent fuel tax on the in- land rivers linked to both a study of impact and the go-ahead for the reconstruction of
Lock and Dam 26 at Alton, 111. "Water resource management, of which navigation is only one part, has been one of the government's most successful programs.
The co-products of navigation — flood con- trol, irrigation, hydroelectric power, recrea- tion, stream flow maintenance, enhancement of fish and wildlife — and navigation itself will be more badly needed in the future than they have been in the past. Our growing population, our growing industrial and agri- cultural strength all depend on efficient man- agement of a limited and nonexpandable sup- ply of water," he said.
Mr. Wilson pointed out that the taxing power could conceivably be used to destroy the natural advantages of water transport to conserve energy and fight inflation, but he doubted that it would be so used. "The capabilities for foolishness by gov- ernment have been well enough demon- strated on all fronts, however, to make nec- essary a major current effort by many water-related interests, barging among them, to demonstrate once again the soundness of nearly 200 years of national effort in the water management field. "As the economy expands, barging can be expanded with less private and public in- vestment than that of any other mode. But nothing succeeds without effort and nothing can be taken for granted," the Dixie Carrier executive said.
Genstar Finalizes Purchase Of
Gulf Of Georgia Towing Co. Ltd.
Genstar Limited, One Place Ville Marie,
Montreal H3B 3R1, Canada, announced that it has finalized its purchase of Gulf of
Georgia Towing Co. Ltd. of Vancouver. The company announced its intention to purchase
Gulf of Georgia last July.
Gulf of Georgia Towing operates tugs and barges along the Pacific Coast and was wholly owned by James S. Byrn of Vancouver, who will now join Genstar in a senior manage- ment capacity.
Gulf of Georgia's marine fleet of 15 tugs and 57 barges will be integrated with Gen- star's West Coast Seaspan International fleet, and will provide the company with a broader range of equipment and greater flexibility in scheduling service to customers of both companies from Mexico to Alaska.
Genstar Limited is a diversified operating company which manufactures cement, build- ing materials, chemicals and fertilizers, and is engaged in housing, land development, commercial property development and man- agement, construction, tug and barge trans- portation, shipbuilding and ship repairs, import-export of industrial minerals, and venture capital investment.
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