Calcasieu Ship Channel
The Calcasieu Ship Channel is a waterway that connects the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles is the fifth-largest incorporated city in the U.S. state of Louisiana, located on Lake Charles, Prien Lake, and the Calcasieu River. Located in Calcasieu Parish, a major cultural, industrial, and educational center in the southwest region of the state, and one of the most important in...

, with the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

. Its existence allows the Port of Lake Charles
Port of Lake Charles
The Port of Lake Charles is an industrial port based in the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.A. It is a major employer in Lake Charles. It is the eleventh largest seaport in the United States , with the Calcasieu Ship Channel providing direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, 34 miles downstream...

, which is actually more than 30 miles from the Gulf, to be the 11th largest seaport in the United States. The primary use of the channel is the importation of materials for processing in Lake Charles' large refinery
A refinery is a production facility composed of a group of chemical engineering unit processes and unit operations refining certain materials or converting raw material into products of value.-Types of refineries:Different types of refineries are as follows:...

 industry, including petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

, liquified natural gas, and the export of refined products, such as gasoline
Gasoline , or petrol , is a toxic, translucent, petroleum-derived liquid that is primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. Some gasolines also contain...

 and chemicals.

Constructed in the 1920s, the channel is actually a combination of natural lakes, streams, and man-made cuts. Over the years, as ships have grown larger, the channel has had increasing difficulty in accommodating contemporary ships. In June, 2009, the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to dredge the channel and bring it up to modern standards.
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