Channel Economic Impact Study

The Calcasieu Ship Channel drives $39 billion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

Those are among the findings of a 2021 study commissioned by Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District (LCH&TD).

The study states that the LCH&TD and the Ship Channel are substantial sources of jobs and tax revenue, which will increase with the $46 billion in planned projects over the next five years.

The study, “The Economic Impacts of the Calcasieu Ship Channel,” was conducted by Martin Associates.

Martin Associates estimated the national, state and local economic impact of the LCH&TD and the Ship Channel.

To calculate the local economic impact, the study measured economic impacts on the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)—Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.


Cargo moving via marine terminals along the Calcasieu Ship Channel in 2020 supported 158,485 jobs nationwide. That includes 108,773 jobs in Louisiana and 42,075 in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

The Calcasieu-Cameron figure represents 45 percent of the area’s non-farm jobs. There were 13,279 direct jobs generated in the Calcasieu-Cameron area, the study found.

Marine cargo activity along the Ship Channel supported $39 billion of total economic value to the U.S. economy. Of that, $29.9 billion of it was in Louisiana, representing 13 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product. About $12 billion of that value was in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes—67 percent of the region’s GDP.


The study also measured the environmental and infrastructure benefits provided by the use of the Ship Channel. The Ship Channel “provides about $1.1 billion in benefits to the U.S. economy by avoiding the environmental emissions, safety, and external trucking infrastructure degradation costs that would result if the domestic cargo now shipped and received along the Calcasieu Ship Channel could no longer use the Ship Channel and would have to be delivered by truck,” the study noted, adding: “4.2 billion gallons of petroleum products are moved from the area refineries by the Colonial Pipeline. The ability to use this pipeline rather than the use of truck distribution throughout the United States removes nearly 500,000 trucks from the nation’s highways.”


Over the next five years, there are $46 billion of planned projects that will use the Ship Channel—adding 90.8 million tons of cargo per year to the current cargo handled.

tugboats on the calcasieu ship channel calcasieu industrial canal


The Ship Channel is home to the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District’s public marine terminals and privately-owned marine terminals. The private industries along the Ship Channel include petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities. With the opening of the Cameron LNG facility, liquefied natural gas became a key export commodity.


The public facilities of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District handle exports of coke by-products from local petroleum refining, imported lumber, exported bagged and bulk grain, wind energy equipment, project cargo, limestone, rutile, barite, rubber and chemical products. The Cameron LNG facility was developed on property leased from the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. The port district owns the City Docks, a general cargo terminal, three bulk terminals (BT-1, BT-4 and BT-7), Industrial Canal property and Industrial Park East property. It also leases land to the L’Auberge and Golden Nugget casino/hotel complexes and others.

To review the full study, contact the Port and

Water Institute of the Gulf Study

The study “Identifying Sediment Sources and Optimizing Placement of Dredge Material to Protect Critical Infrastructure” (2019) has been issued by The Water Institute of the Gulf.

The Calcasieu Ship Channel (CSC) has become an important economic driver in Lake Charles and in the southwest Louisiana region. The CSC is a 68-mile long, deep-draft commercial waterway located in southwest Louisiana, from Lake Charles into the Gulf of Mexico. Beginning in the 1920s, the CSC was channelized by straightening, widening, and deepening the Calcasieu River to its current dimensions of 400 ft wide by 40 ft deep. Maintaining the adequate channel dimensions to accommodate ship traffic that is increasing in both volume and maximum vessel size requires a rigorous dredging plan. Thus, there is a need to carefully investigate the sediment dynamics along the length of the CSC and surrounding areas in order to understand the sources and character of the sediment and design a feasible and effective dredging strategy.

The goal of the present project is to assist the Port of Lake Charles in strategizing to maintain its deep-draft commercial competitiveness through the 21st Century, while at the same time minimizing its environmental footprint and keeping dredging and dredge material disposal area maintenance costs to a minimum. This observational and modeling effort provides the necessary scientific underpinning to develop an integrated plan in the future that may include novel strategies that use dredge material to limit future dredging needs and qualify as beneficial use, and green infrastructure (e.g., ecosystem habitat improvements).