Houston/Galveston Signing

The Port of Houston Authority and the Port of Galveston signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore opportunities for the development and use of property on Pelican Island as a future container-handling facility. Representatives of the maritime industry were on hand to witness and support the efforts of the two ports’ commitment to address long-term container capacity needs and to stimulate economic development for the Texas Gulf Coast region.

Both of the ports’ governing bodies gave the green light for the two ports to sign the MOU during their respective board meetings held on April 23. The MOU calls for both ports to identify a joint action-planning team to create a Master Development Plan for a container-handling facility on the island. The plan may address, among other things, financial and operational matters, acquisition of property, facility access, land use requirements and environmental impact.

“The port authority looks forward to the opportunity to work with the Port of Galveston to explore solutions to the region’s long-term container capacity needs. Now that we have our Bayport Container facility open and running, it’s prudent for us to start the planning for Pelican Island,” said Jim Edmonds, Chairman of the Port of Houston Authority Commission.

Expectations are for container cargo growth to continue at double digit increases. The two ports anticipate market demand to require development and operation of such a facility in the next 10 to 15 years.

“With the expansion of the Panama Canal, the West Gulf region is in prime position to take advantage of the future growth in the maritime industry,” stated Benny Holland, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Port of Galveston. “The Port of Houston and the Port of Galveston have agreed to form a partnership to develop a state-of-the-art container terminal so they can benefit from the increased traffic in this region.”

The joint agreement stipulates that finance and development of the facility would not begin until after 2015, when the port authority’s Bayport Container Terminal is expected to be fully built out.

“The Port of Galveston is the city’s open door to the world and a major economic engine for the city and the state of Texas,” said Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. “Galveston is proud to join ranks with the Port of Houston Authority in a mutually beneficial agreement that is historical in its potential for future growth and job opportunities.”

“The Galveston Economic Development Partnership is excited about this new MOU between the ports of Houston and Galveston,” added Jeff Sjostrom, president of the Partnership. “We feel this new development will maximize the property on Pelican Island and assist with diversification of the Port of Galveston.”

The MOU calls for both ports to put property that they own on Pelican Island to use in the development of the container-handling facility and for the Port of Houston Authority to operate the facility.

Jim Gilbert, chairman of the Economic Alliance Port Region, said, “The Economic Alliance is pleased to see this joint effort, which will maximize the utilization of the strength of both ports and have a very positive impact on the economy for the entire region.”

Walt Niemand, president of the West Gulf Maritime Association (WGMA), headquartered in Houston and representing over 70 maritime businesses involved with international maritime trade, said “This significant joint effort is appreciated since it will help meet the needs of WGMA maritime members as well as both local and regional economies. The amount of containerized cargo moving through the Houston-Galveston hub is expected to increase in double-figure percentages per year over the next 10 years and modern, state-of-the-art facilities will be essential to help meet the region’s needs.”