The Port of Houston Authority said Tuesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has furnished it with a draft permit for the channel leading to its Bayport Container Terminal.
Executive Director Roger Guenther told port authority commissioners that the draft permit for Barbours Cut channel dredging will follow soon.
The projects at the port's two container terminals, which will deepen the channels from 40 feet to 45 feet to match the depth of the Houston Ship Channel, are expected to begin shortly.
Earlier this month, the commission approved a $68-million construction contract for the work on the two channels.
In an article appearing in the May issue of American Shipper
(“Houston port’s energy boost”), Guenther explained that deeper channels are needed both to accommodate larger ships calling Houston, and because of the many heavy export cargoes that are shipped through Houston.
“The energy sector, the resurgence in that field — specifically the Eagle Ford Shale — is already creating significant impact on the whole port of Houston [and] the Houston ship channel region as a whole,” Guenther said. The Eagle Ford Shale formation is in South Texas.
Resins and plastics accounted for 31.8 percent of containerized exports through Houston last year, and exports of chemicals and minerals were 16.2 percent of the overall export total.
“There is a tremendous amount of investment going on in the industry here,” Guenther said. According to some studies, he said, manufacturing facilities up and down the Houston Ship Channel have committed to spending at least $35 billion in the next few years.
At its meeting Tuesday, the port commission also approved sponsorship of a TIGER grant application by the Port Terminal Railroad Association for a rail construction project, including a $11.3-million funding commitment by the port authority, contingent on member railroads' agreement to reimburse PHA and execute a funding commitment letter with the Houston-Galveston Area Council for the project.
In his monthly report, Guenther said that the port authority's financial statements continue to show strong results, with March 2014 revenues topping $20 million, supported by growth in container loads and bulk cargoes.
Year-to-date total tonnage was 8.8 million tons, up by 2 percent, he reported.