EGT’s brand-new export terminal at Longview, Wash., sets new standards for efficiency, according to CEO Larry Clarke: “With grain so valuable, no one wants to leave it sitting in the field at risk, so the speed with which you can move it from field, to storage, to its destination is important.

“The facility we have constructed can unload 110-car shuttle trains in about five hours. That’s three to five hours faster than our nearest competition, and we can unload without breaking the train apart.

“We think EGT will de-bottleneck export shipments through the Pacific Northwest.”

The company, a joint venture by Bunge North America, ITOCHU International, and South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean, sets other new standards for grain handling.

With 60,000 ft. of looped tracks, the terminal can hold four loaded shuttle trains and two empty shuttles at the same time. As engines pull the cars over the dump pit at a programmed 0.6 mph, robots open the doors for unloading. By the time a car passes over the pit, it is fully emptied and robots close the doors.

Nearly 1,000 miles east in Montana, EGT is building three high-capacity shuttle train loaders on the BNSF railroad to feed wheat, corn, soybeans, soybean meal and DDGs to the Longview facility.

That will take two to three days out of the transportation cycle for delivering commodities to the port and returning railcars for their next load, according to Clarke.

With the Columbia River recently dredged to 43 ft. deep, EGT projects its new terminal will double the number of ships calling at Longview.

EGT’s $200 million investment – close to seven years in the making– reflects USDA’s

long-range Asian demand projections: 800 million bushels of increased corn sales to China, South Korea and Southeast Asia over the next decade and 1.26 billion bushels of new soybean sales, almost all bound for China.

The increase in Asian incomes “is a huge driver of trade and one reason the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is getting so much interest,” says Kevin Roepke, manager of international relations for the U.S. Grains Council.

“On a per-ton basis, it actually costs less to ship corn from the PNW to Japan or China than it does to rail it from Iowa into the poultry markets in Arkansas. All the infrastructure that’s being built in the PNW and the Panama Canal aids U.S. trade. More facilities for us to export products just makes us more competitive.”