Executive shepherding projects on both sides of river

Steve Nathanson is part of big oil projects on both sides of the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge.

Last month, as president of BR Port Services LLC, of Houston, Nathanson was granted an option for a six-month lease on about 124 acres on the west bank at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge.

If the option proceeds to a lease, Port Commission records show the port could receive more than $2.6 million annually in rent and fees. Those fees would be paid on millions of barrels of petroleum and other bulk liquids Nathanson’s firm would pump through a pipeline into ocean-going tankers.

Nathanson also spearheads a significant project for another company across the river and north of Baton Rouge that will power 350,000 barrels of crude oil to ExxonMobil facilities on a daily basis.

Early last year, as president of Genesis Energy, also of Houston, Nathanson and Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Genesis would spend $125 million for oil storage facilities, a train terminal and a pipeline on the Mississippi’s east bank.

That ongoing project is expected to nearly double the capacity of Genesis Energy’s oil-storage terminal at Port Hudson, north of Baton Rouge, from 216,000 barrels of oil to 416,000 barrels.

One part of that multipronged project is an 18-mile pipeline connecting Genesis’ Port Hudson storage tanks with its train terminal, being built near ExxonMobil’s Maryland Tank Farm at Scotlandville.

A section of the same 24-inch pipeline then bends southwest and dives beneath the Mississippi River to send oil to ExxonMobil’s Anchorage Tank Farm on the opposite side of the river in West Baton Rouge Parish, Nathanson confirmed this week.

That pipeline will be capable of pushing 350,000 barrels of crude oil to ExxonMobil on a daily basis, Jindal and Nathanson said last year.

Nathanson said this week that the Port Hudson storage tank expansion and construction of the pipeline should be completed by the end of March. The train terminal should be built by the end of June.

But Nathanson would not discuss details of BR Port Services’ contemplated project with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge at Port Allen.

The company was chartered Jan. 16 in Delaware. The only company officials listed in port records are Nathanson and Paul A. Davis, who also serves as senior vice president of Genesis Energy.

Port records show BR Port Services is considering placement of large oil and/or other bulk liquid storage tanks on port property. That potential tank farm is labeled “Genesis” on one port document.

If Nathanson and the port commission reach agreement on a lease, port records show the tank farm would be connected by a pipeline to a port dock, where oil or other bulk liquids would be pumped into ocean-going Aframax-class tankers. Many such tankers exceed a length of 700 feet.

A fee schedule in port records indicates that more than 33 million barrels of oil or other bulk liquids could be pumped into such tankers annually by BR Port Services.

Nathanson noted that the option on the port property has not yet been converted into a lease. He said the companies he represents have a policy of not discussing potential projects until a decision has been made to set them in motion.

While Nathanson would not discuss BR Port Services, he said Genesis last year began operations at an expanded crude oil rail unloading-and-loading facility at Genesis’ Mississippi River site in Natchez, Miss.

A new 100,000-barrel storage tank was installed at the site, which Nathanson said is connected by the Natchez Railway to the Canadian National Railway.

The Natchez terminal began accepting as many as 40 rail cars daily last year, and Nathanson said it should be expanded to a 100-car capacity by the end of March.

Nathanson also said the Natchez site can receive bitumen, also known as asphalt, and dilbit, a diluted form of bitumen.

The Natchez facility — which had two 30,000-barrel storage tanks before the addition of the 100,000-barrel tank — stores the bitumen under heat, Nathanson explained. And plant workers can later transfer the bitumen to heated barges for delivery to refiners.

Genesis Energy LP’s ticker symbol is GEL. Its stock closed Thursday at $54.47 per share. The firm has multinational operations and a market capitalization of $4.83 billion.