March 2016 Commerce Club


By Judith Schultz, GHPB

2014 Half Whitney cropped 2Mark Knoy, president and CEO of American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL), presented “Myth Busters” to more than 240 attendees at the Commerce Club luncheon at Brady’s Landing on March 10, 2016. Knoy prefaced his remarks with a video highlighting ACBL’s work on U.S. inland waterways, before going on to his main presentation.

The presentation highlighted modern inland water transportation activities, dispelling some outdated ideas by contrasting and comparing the work of barging boats and open ocean vessels. Busting the myths that barge companies are “mom and pop” operations and are a small business, Knoy showed that the U.S. inland barge industry generates $100 billion in annual economic output and supports 500,000 jobs. Knoy also showed that typical daily transits for brownwater vessels for the Port of Houston were 378 per day in 2015 vs. an average of 62 transits for ocean-going vessels ships. Like their bluewater counterparts, inland barges transport grain, coal, steel, salt, construction materials and many other dry bulk commodities.

Discussing the safety standards of inland marine vessels, which are often perceived as subpar to those of ships, Knoy stressed the high level of requirements to which they adhere saying, “Our industry asked to be inspected.” In addition, inland mariners are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and required to complete rigorous training and assessment. Towboat pilots navigate tows as large as 40 barges through varying river and weather conditions.

Knoy indicated that barging was also the “most efficient, greenest, and safest mode of bulk transportation” in the country, transporting tons of cargo per gallon of fuel with the lowest CO22014 Half Briggs emissions per million ton-miles. “Nothing matches that efficiency,” declared Knoy. Barging is not limited to one or two barges, but rather an average inland tow contains 15 barges, with the cargo capacity of more than 200 railcars or 1,000 trucks. “On the Mississippi River, the tow capacity can be the equivalency of a Panamax,” he added.

A Q & A session that discussed infrastructure funding, the Jones Act, and riding out a marketplace impacted by low crude oil prices wrapped up another Commerce Club luncheon.

Editor’s Note: April Feick, vice president of global supply chain, ExxonMobil Chemical Company, will be the guest speaker for the next Commerce Club at Brady’s Landing on April 14, 2016. Individual seats and table sponsorships are available. Reserve your seat at or by calling (713) 678-4300.


  • Date April 12, 2016
  • Tags April 2016