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Coast Guard opens Louisiana Calcasieu Ship Channel to more traffic

·2 min read

Oct 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard said over the weekend it will allow vessels with drafts less than 36 feet (11 meters) to transit the Calcasieu Channel in Louisiana as local and federal agencies clean up obstructions in the waterway following Hurricane Delta.

The Coast Guard said vessels with a draft of more than 25 feet but less than 36 feet can travel the channel with a local pilot during daylight hours only.

The Calcasieu Channel allows vessels to access the Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant, oil refineries in Lake Charles owned by units of Citgo Petroleum Corp and Philips 66, and other energy facilities.

The Army Corps of Engineers said on Monday that the U.S. Navy is working on removal of a sunken rock barge in the channel.

The Army Corps said it has a dredge addressing shoaling in the bar channel, which extends into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Army Corps said an oil rig and an old sunken shrimp boat have already been removed from the channel.

Delta slammed into the Louisiana coast on Oct. 9.

Neither the Army Corps or the Coast Guard could say when the ship channel would be restored to full 40-foot deep draft traffic.

Analysts said a fully laden LNG tanker has a draft of around 40 feet. LNG tankers, however, can move through shallower water so long as they do not carry a full cargo.

Traders said that is likely what happened when the SK Audace LNG tanker went to Cameron during the first week of October, which was before the Army Corps finished dredging the ship channel after Hurricane Laura hit the region.

There was at least one LNG tanker waiting in the Gulf of Mexico to go to Cameron, according to data from Refinitiv.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy)