In what could lead to millions of dollars in new revenue and dozens of new jobs, the Port of Longview announced Wednesday it has reached a tentative deal with International Raw Materials to lease Berths 1 and 2. The port isn’t releasing details yet about the tentative lease agreement, which will be presented to the public for the first time at a special meeting 10 a.m. Friday at the Port of Longview.
It’s not clear yet whether commissioners will accept the deal or request changes before approving the lease and proposed fees for wharfage and dockage. The port is attempting to finalize the lease before it completes its 2018 budget this month.
Negotiations with International Raw Materials began in earnest in April, after the port selected the company from three applicants. IRM could guarantee that it would ship more products than the other applicants, S.S.A. Marine and Kinder Morgan.
The lease agreement will likely be for five years, but the port hasn’t released how much revenue it expects to generate from the deal.
Berths 1 & 2 were previously locked in a long-term lease with Kinder Morgan. Yet the company’s low cargo volumes meant the port wasn’t making as much money as staff thought it could from the docks. When Kinder Morgan’s lease recently expired, the port rebranded Berths 1 and 2 as the “Bridgeview Terminal” and began marketing it to new potential clients last September. The idea was to attract a tenant who could ship greater volumes of the same products the berths have handled historically, including bulk minerals, fertilizers and agricultural products such as pot ash, soda ash and soybean meal.
This isn’t the first time International Raw Materials has done business at the Port of Longview. IRM used the terminal from 1981 but then sold the rights to Kinder Morgan in 2001. At the time, it was largely suspected that Kinder Morgan only purchased rights to the terminal to shut out competition and intended to rely on Port of Portland docks more heavily, said Commissioner Bob Bagaason. (Kinder Morgan has denied this claim, according to Commissioner Doug Averett.)