The need for deep draft harbors off the coast of the United States has become more urgent since the predicted energy shortage became reality.

About 77 per cent of the nation's energy requirements are presently supplied by petroleum and natural gas. Those commodities are in short supply due to a number of factors, including a shortage of crude oil. Domestic oil production has leveled off in recent years, increasing the need to supplement domestic supplies with imported crude.

The crude that America imports must be transported by ship over the great distances between foreign petroleum deposits and domestic refineries and pipeline terminals. The costs of transporting crude by ship can be extremely expensive, unless Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) are used. Employing these ocean-going mammoths which range from 100,000 to 477,000 deadweight tons and more can result in huge transportation savings.

The U.S. Department of the Interior estimates that the use of VLCCs will result in transportation costs savings of 40 to 60 per cent. Depending on transshipment distance, the savings range from five to 18 cents per barrel. 'We all know that these are appreciable savings when we are talking about millions of barrels per day," said John Love, former director of the White House Energy Policy Office. Government figures also show that it costs about $13 a ton to carry oil in a 47,000 DWT tanker from the Persian Gulf to U.S. North Atlantic ports. In a 100,000 DWT ship the cost would drop to $8.70 a ton, thus illustrating the potential for saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year on transporting crude. The deep drafts of these supertankers, which can be as much as 80 or 90 feet, prevent them from calling at virtually all U.S. ports. The consensus is that the existing American harbors and channels, which average less than 40 feet in depth, cannot be dredged without endangering the environment and incurring unreasonable expense.

Other nations have solved this problem by building deep water port facilities offshore, and in time the U.S. will do the same thing. The Louisiana Super port Authority was formed to develop such a facility off the coast of Louisiana.

Shortly following his election as governor of Louisiana in 1972, Edwin W. Edwards felt that the state was a natural site for a super port and that it would benefit greatly by having such a port off its coast. Gov. Edwards realized that substantial groundwork and planning were prerequisites for definite action toward construction and therefore appointed an ad hoc "task force" to begin studying the concept of super ports.

The task force consisted of 46 Louisiana citizens who represented a cross section of interests in port, economic, labor, maritime, petrochemical and environmental matters. The task force was charged with three major goals: funding through private sources of preliminary legal, environmental, engineering and economic studies of the proposed project and its impacts; beginning a public information program to apprise the public of the need for a super port; and the drafting of legislation to be presented to the 1972 session of the Louisiana Legislature which would create a Super port Authority.

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