Port eyes deal with two tenants

Committees of the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission recommended approval Thursday of two tenant lease agreements worth a combined $294,000 over the next 28 months.

If approved by the full commission next week, Stupp Coatings LLC would pay the port $156,000 for a 1-year lease on 24 acres at the port’s Inland Rivers Marine Terminal in Port Allen. Stupp Coatings also would pay the port $26,000 for shipment of 26,000 metric tons of coated pipe to a customer in the Atchafalaya Basin.

The company plans to use the 24-acre site on the west bank of the Mississippi River to coat and store steel pipes needed by the oil and gas industry, said Greg Johnson, the port’s director of business development.

Stupp Coatings will invest $300,000 for improvements at the site, Johnson said. The company will employ 30 to 40 workers at the port over the next year.

Stupp Coatings is an affiliate of Baton Rouge-based Stupp Corp., which has had a presence in Baton Rouge for more than 20 years. The company’s local offices are on the 12000 block of Leisure Road, next to two of Stupp Corp.’s pipe mills.

Stupp Corp.’s chief executive officer is John P. Stupp Jr., who also serves as president of privately held and St. Louis-based Stupp Bros. Inc., a firm established more than 150 years ago.

The port’s engineering/finance and executive committees also recommended a 28-month lease of a warehouse on 0.79 acres for Baton Rouge Transit LLC in return for $112,000.

Baton Rouge Transit, a subsidiary of United Kingdom-based Drax Group, plans to use that warehouse for storage of equipment and parts needed by affiliated wood pellet mills in Louisiana and Mississippi, Johnson said.

Drax already is pouring $30 million into construction of three giant storage facilities on port property in Port Allen. Those facilities are designed to store wood pellets manufactured by the mills in northern Louisiana and Mississippi.

The pellets would be shipped to Europe for use as fuel at power plants and other industrial facilities.

Drax’ pellet storage facilities were projected last year to pay the port $672,000 in rent and shipping fees in 2014. The projection for 2015 was $1.6 million.

However, Drax announced in February its Louisiana mill in Morehouse Parish and its storage facilities in Port Allen will not begin production and shipping operations until the first quarter of 2015.

Drax also announced its pellet mill in Amite County, Mississippi, will not begin production until the second quarter.

The British power plant operator said all those pellets produced at the mills will be sent to Port Allen for eventual shipment to Europe.