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Vol. 18, No. 32 Week of August 11, 2013
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

AK-WA Connection 2013: Logistics firm touts its port-ability

Bold venture seeks to transport cargo for large, complex projects using spacious facilities at Point MacKenzie and Olympia, Wash.

Rose Ragsdale

Alaska-Washington Connection

PacArctic Logistics LLC is an early entrant in the race to capitalize on transportation and logistics opportunities offered by Port MacKenzie, one of Alaska’s newest ports.

PacArctic, affiliated with Koniag, Inc. for the past two years, is a project logistics company with origins in Washington State. It specializes in handling complex transportation projects to and from Alaska through the port facilities at Point MacKenzie, which is located across Cook Inlet about two miles by water from Anchorage. Koniag is the Alaska Native regional corporation for Kodiak Island.

“Shipping to and from Alaska has changed radically since the pipeline days of driving heavy cargo up the Al-Can Highway. With fast shipping and our modern facilities at Port of Olympia and Port Mackenzie, PacArctic offers you easy direct shipping to and from Alaska,” promises PacArctic on its website.

A running start

PacArctic signed a 20-year lease with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for 7.5 acres at Port MacKenzie in October 2011. Since then, the company has completed several special projects, and this summer, it launched common carrier services between the Alaska port and the Port of Olympia, Wash.

“I have worked in specialized shipping and transportation my entire career, and I’ve watched Port Mackenzie for 10 years now,” said King Hufford III, former owner and now president of PacArctic. “I was curious and interested in the potential out there. I thought it made a lot of sense for me with the potential here.”

PacArctic specializes in project-forwarding work on major infrastructure projects, which involves handling large shipments of freight to or from Southcentral Alaska and the Interior.

In recent years PacArctic has been instrumental in transporting sought-after timber from the Kodiak village of Ouzinkie to Point MacKenzie, where an eager business owner had plans to use the logs for large beams and playground mulch, Hufford said.

The company also oversaw the docking and discharge of nearly 500 short tons of six-inch power transmission line that was installed by Cruz Construction in Cook Inlet last summer between Cook Inlet Region Inc.’s wind farm on Fire Island and Anchorage.

Koniag President and CEO Will Anderson said the unique services that PacArctic provides will benefit a broad range of customers.

A lean operation with as few as four employees, Pac Arctic has received assistance with its administrative needs from Koniag through an operating agreement.

Hufford, who has more than 25 years of experience in transportation and logistics services, said the company’s focus on project cargo and Port MacKenzie is a good match. In addition to its nearly eight acres of laydown area, PacArctic has access to an additional 16 acres of space.

“We did a lot of due diligence and we liked the location, and the immense amount of room. There’s a lot of area to do laydown. It’s got good proximity: right on the water, and if need be, we can go north,” Hufford said in an interview.

The port’s proximity to the Mat-Su valley, Fairbanks and the North Slope are also big pluses.

The Port of Olympia, located at the southern end of Puget Sound, is a deep-water port that is home to a large fleet of merchant ships and an industrial complex designed to handle seaborne container cargo. It has dock-side rail lines and is also adjacent to Interstate 5, providing easy access to America’s highway system.

PacArctic’s operation is conveniently located near the main docks, which it says enables cost-effective trans-loading, laydown, storage and other activities associated with large projects.

Scheduled shipping

With a 400-foot barge on long-term lease, the company inaugurated monthly common carrier services in June between the two ports. Monthly trips, featuring estimated nine-day transit times, were scheduled to continue throughout the summer season until October.

PacArctic operates a 230-ton crane that is capable of lifting heavy project cargo at the Port MacKenzie dock, which is capable of handling barges and large project vessels.

“Our facility offers trans-loading, laydown, storage and other activities associated with a large project,” Hufford said.

The company also partnered with trucking companies to provide deliveries of the construction materials, steel and lumber, cranes, tanks that it aims to transport for others

Mat-Su officials predict that PacArctic will attract a variety of business because logistics can be very difficult for individual companies to handle without expert help.

Potential projects could be the Knik Arm Crossing, new mines, new oil platforms, sealift modules and the Susitna hydroelectric dam, among others.

“We’re very interested in mining, and we’re currently shipping materials related to mining in both directions,” Hufford said. “Between bulk and project cargos, that’s where we want to keep our niche. It would make sense for us to provide services to big mine projects.

Other future opportunities include a quarry project with very large granodiorite formations on Kodiak Island that is being developed by Koniag as armor stone to be used for jetty projects and shore protection.

“It’s very difficult to come by the very large stones (50 tons or so), and we’ve already talked to ports along West Coast that are interested in purchasing them,” Hufford said.

As an ocean common carrier and freight forwarder, PacArctic also can undertake other projects out of the Port of Olympia, especially big capital projects, even to Hawaii and Guam, he said.

Further, the company is banking on its services being in even higher demand when Alaska Railroad Corp. and the Mat-Su Borough complete a planned 32-mile rail extension that will connect Port MacKenzie with the mainline of the Alaska Railroad near Houston. The borough has acquired $146 million in state legislative appropriations, so far, for the$272 million project, which is expected to be completed by 2016.

“The new rail extension runs right across the back side of our leased property, and we have plans to put in our own rail elevations and railhead,” Hufford said.

“We just think the timing is good. Most of predictions we’re seeing indicate more exploration on the North Slope and gas line activities. We think the economy is going to stabilize much sooner that it will in the Lower 48,” he added.

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