Evaluating dredging and offshore loading locations for U.S. coal exports using the local logistics system

J. P. Osleeb, S. J. Ratick, P. Buckley, K. Lee, M. Kuby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The formulation and use of a mixed integer mathematical programming location-allocation model, the Coal Logistics System (COLS), is presented in this study. COLS is used to evaluate the potential for reducing water-borne coal transportation costs, and concomitantly the costs of delivering coal to European markets. This cost reduction is accomplished through the use of supercolliers which would require the dredging of channels at selected ports or the use of offshore loading sites at East and Gulf Coast ports or both. The model developed and the analysis presented in this paper are intended to aid in the determination of the location and extent of these activities, and to indicate the size of the potential reduction in the costs of U.S. export coal. In order to be able to accommodate these deeper draft vessels at East and Gulf Coast ports, expensive improvements would need to be undertaken which may include the deepening of harbor channels to the depths required for 120 000 dead weight ton (dwt) or larger supercolliers. Since dredging requires large initial investments and has significant long-term maintenance costs, excess capacity could represent an inefficient use of both U.S. revenues and the ports' own funds. The use of offshore loading moorings to permit the "topping off" of supercolliers by self-unloading colliers at the deepwater sections of harbor channels has been proposed as a way of reducing trans-ocean transportation costs and avoiding the large investments and time delays associated with dredging activities. The Coal Logistics System was modified and extended to enable the evaluation of these two port improvement options to be undertaken in a consistent and realistic manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-180
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • Mixed-integer programming
  • logistics
  • nested location-allocation
  • network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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