Port Freeport, on the Texas Gulf about 60 miles south of Houston, is soon to get its first post-Panamax cranes.
Two 100-gauge gantries, each capable of reaching across 18 cargo containers, are slated to arrive at Port Freeport from China by late June and be operational in August, according to Glenn A. Carlson, Port Freeport’s executive port director and chief executive officer.
After returning from a visit to the crane manufacturer in Shanghai, Carlson shared with the American Journal of Transportation that the new units should be particularly beneficial in expediting cargo to serve regional petrochemical interests.
“This further reinforces the commitment we are making to the petrochemical industry in the Port Freeport area,” Carlson said. “This will provide a new opportunity in Freeport for the petrochemical industry, furnishing access to global markets.”
Current petrochemical industry investments in expansion projects in the Freeport area are estimated to total $25 billion, according to Carlson, who added that a heavylift corridor has been established between Port Freeport and local petrochemical manufacturing facilities.
The cranes are to be put in place at the 800-foot-long Berth 7 at Port Freeport’s Velasco Terminal. Although the building of the berth began in 2007, its opening was postponed due to construction-related delays and litigation, which culminated in a $19.6 million settlement reached in September.
While declining to disclose the purchase price of the cranes, Carlson said the port saved millions of dollars per unit plus cut typical delivery time in half by buying the assignment of two cranes for which an ocean carrier previously had contracted with Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., or ZPMC for short, the world’s largest manufacturer of cranes and steel structures.
In addition to Carlson visiting Shanghai, Port Freeport’s senior electrician, Jim O’Brien, and the port’s senior mechanic, Rodney Blackstock, each recently spent more than a week at the ZPMC facility for operational training.
Besides providing a boost in serving petrochemical interests, the crane-equipped Velasco Terminal should offer opportunities for new port customers plus provide alternative berthing for handling banana imports. Ships bringing Chiquita, Dole and Turbana bananas each call Port Freeport on a weekly basis.
Port Freeport already ranks among the top 20 U.S. ports in international cargo tonnage handled.