By Marissa Luck, October 31, 2014, The Daily News
Boosted by exports of grain and imports of steel, the Port of Longview appears back on track for another record year after last year’s downtick.
According to the port’s third-quarter financial report, it earned nearly $27.5 million in operating revenue between January and September, compared to $21.6 million during the same time last year — a 27 percent jump.
Overall, imports in the first three quarters swelled 37 percent and exports grew by 10 percent over last year.
The big gains this year have been in exports of a bumper crop of grains. Corn exports at the EGT Grain terminal were up 71 percent and soybeans rose by 59 percent, though wheat exports declined 22 percent.
Port Commission Vice President Bob Baagason said last year’s drought dragged down grain exports and 2013 port income.
“The hit was significant but not like in the past. … We don’t make those kind of bounces anymore, we’re diverse to a better degree and we’re trying to continue that way,” Baagason said during Tuesday’s port commission meeting.
Diversification has included exporting scrap steel to Korea, which began in September.
Imports of foreign metal nearly doubled, to 21,000 tons, reflecting a national demand for steel driven by U.S. oil and auto industries.
On the down side, logs exports dropped 12 percent as Chinese demand receded slightly. However, the port projects additional shipments of logs in the fourth quarter this year.
The port had a five-year streak of record revenue that ended last year, when revenue dipped by $2.1 million over the previous year. Despite the decline, the port still was the third largest port in Washington last year, as measured by operating revenue.
Third-quarter results reported this week showed the port’s operating expenses increased 15 percent year over year, from $17.8 million in the first three quarters last year to $20.5 million this year. The hike is due to extra labor costs for handling cargo. Even with higher expenses, though, the port’s net income — its profit, so to speak — was $6.2 million as of Sept. 30, nearly three times the $2.3 million reported at this time last year.