Kirby Corporation, the largest tank barge operator in the United States, has partnered with Benny Cenac Jr’s Cenac Marine Services LLC of Houma, Louisiana to purchase a fleet of inland tank barges and modern boats. The fleet, which will cost approximately $244 million, consists of 63 30,000 bbl. inland tank barges, 34 inland towboats, and two 3,200-hp offshore tugs, and is expected to be financed through additional borrowings.
In a statement, Cenac Marine Services LLC CEO, Benny Cenac Jr expressed his excitement about the deal, saying, “we welcome this opportunity for our vessels to integrate within Kirby Corporation’s fleet, while we independently foster growth for our company’s construction and maintenance operations. Our company has remained strong through the generations by adapting to new opportunities within the oil, gas, and marine transport industries and this continues in that tradition.”
Benny Cenac Jr’s History of Principles and Values
Founded over 80 years ago, Cenac Marine Services has played a critical role in the Houma community since Benny Cenac Jr’s grandfather, Jock Cenac, founded the company in 1927. After taking ownership of the company in 1981, Benny Cenac Jr continued to be guided by the principles and values he learned watching this grandfather operate the historic business: a commitment to employee satisfaction and great company morale.
Today, the company has evolved to focus on transporting refined products, petrochemicals, and black oil, including crude oil, residual fuels, feedstocks, and lubricants on the Lower Mississippi River, its tributaries, and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway for major oil companies and refineries. Fortunately, the vessels purchased by Kirby will continue to operate in the same manner they did prior to the acquisition.
While Kirby Corp. is expected to take over complete ownership of the vessels, fortunately, Cenac’s employees, from captains to deckhands, will be provided jobs by Kirby. The vessels are also expected to continue serving the same routes, as Kirby occupies a small suite of offices at the Cenac headquarters, continuing the same traditions embedded into the company for decades and staying consistent with the company’s philosophy.
“The acquisition of Cenac’s young fleet of well-maintained inland tank barges and modern boats is an ideal complement to Kirby’s operations,” David Grzebinski, Kirby’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Cenac has a strong history of operational excellence and is well respected by the industry and its customers. Cenac’s inland fleet of 30,000-barrel tank barges, of which approximately 80% are clean and 20% are heated black oil vessels, has an average age of only four years. Similarly, Cenac’s fleet of modern inland towboats and offshore tug boats has an average age of only six years. The addition of these vessels to Kirby’s fleet will not only further reduce our average age profile but will also further enable us to avoid significant capital outlays for new vessels in the future.”
Benny Cenac Jr expressed that he was hopeful for this next chapter for his company and looks forward to strengthening the relationship between Cenac Marine Services and Kirby. As the owner of Cenac Marine Services, Benny Cenac Jr conveyed that he was confident the company would continue providing the same excellent service they have for decades and is eager to begin this next chapter for Cenac Marine and Kirby Corporation.
“We are in a different time in this business that takes new and different ways to make it all work,” Cenac said. “With all of us pulling the same way, we will continue our success. Every decision we make at our company is measured against the examples of entrepreneurship and courage of my great-great-grandfather. We are confident that Jock Cenac would be proud and pleased with this decision, and the good position it places us in for the future.”