Gunderson, Vigor to bid on $70M coal barge work

While controversy continues over whether coal has a place at Northwest ports, the companies behind a terminal based at the Port of Morrow is ready to hand out $70 million in coal barge contracts.

While controversy continues over whether coal has a place at Northwest ports, the companies behind a terminal based at the Port of Morrow is ready to hand out $70 million in coal barge contracts.

The developer of one of several coal export projects proposed along the Columbia River is seeking bids from two Portland manufacturers to make $70 million worth of new barges.

The Morrow Pacific project, a $159 million project from Australia-based Ambre Energy, on Tuesday said it sent out bid requests to barge-makers Gunderson LLC in Portland’s Northwest industrial district and Swan Island-based Vigor Industrial for 20 enclosed barges.

The work is expected to create more than 300 construction jobs over the next two years, and Clark Moseley, CEO of the Morrow Pacific project, promised that it’s just the first of several bids to come.

“Over the next two years, the Morrow Pacific project will invest over $150 million in Oregon,” Mosely said in a news release.

The Morrow Pacific project would start at a fully enclosed transfer station at the Port of Morrow near Boardman where coal shipped via rail from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming would be loaded onto the covered barges. It would then be shipped down the Columbia River to a new $40 million enclosed transloading facility at the Port of St. Helens, where it will be transferred to ocean-going vessels.

The project has option agreements with both the Port of Morrow and Port of St. Helens and has submitted permits to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of State Lands.

Morrow Pacific is one of three major coal export facilities proposed along the Columbia River near Portland.

Ambre Energy is a partner in a project near Longview, Wash., to build a $600 million private coal export terminal that would create 300 full-time jobs. And pipeline and terminal operator Kinder Morgan plans to invest between $150 million and $200 million for a coal storage and export facility at the Port of St. Helens’ Port Westward Industrial Park, creating 80 full-time jobs.

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