By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOTTerminal projects and efforts to secure deeper ship channels are among leading developments at ports of the Texas Gulf region.
The energy sector continues to play a key role at several Texas ports – not only in terms of traditional oil industry importance but also the growing focus on wind energy.
Here is a port-by-port rundown of the latest at Texas Gulf ports, starting near the Louisiana state line and heading down the coast toward the Mexican border:
PORT OF PORT ARTHUR
Construction of major new energy-sector facilities in East Texas is keeping the Port of Port Arthur busy moving project cargo – including a 1,280-metric-ton vacuum column for a $7 billion refinery being built by Motiva Enterprises LLC. The 164-foot-by-66-foot-by-59-foot vacuum column is the heaviest single piece ever handled by the port, and Motiva’s Port Arthur refinery bodes to be the largest in the nation, with a 600,000-barrel-a-day capacity. A $2 billion Valero Energy Corp. decoker and plant expansion and a $2 billion Total Petrochemicals USA Inc. hydrocracker also are under construction nearby.
Port Arthur port officials report that flows of traditional cargos, including forest product imports from South America and linerboard exports to Europe, remain stable, while the port also is seeing significant activity in overflow of military cargo from the Port of Beaumont, having already moved some 3,000 pieces of equipment being deployed back to the United States from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, port officials remain in discussions with multiple entities regarding development of 75 newly acquired acres of waterfront property to the west of the Port of Port Arthur’s existing facilities on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (Sabine-Neches Ship Channel).
PORT OF BEAUMONT
Some 20 miles up the Sabine-Neches Ship Channel from Port Arthur, the Port of Beaumont is moving forward with an aggressive program of $58 million in capital improvements that will open up additional business opportunities. Already in place is a new 140-metric-ton mobile harbor crane, purchased from the Liebherr Group for $5.3 million, that is saving customers time and money by speeding cargo loading and unloading procedures.
Another project includes a 650-foot-long wharf along the east side of the Sabine-Neches Waterway in Orange County, which is scheduled to begin receiving vessels by November. A $4 million grant from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will assist with enhancing railroad and roadway access to the new dock, which is across the waterway from current port facilities. The dock is augmented by 20 acres of improved surface for storage. An additional 150 acres is immediately available for future development with more acreage available for later expansion.
Also, a $16 million rail expansion project is to begin soon, transferring a holding yard north of the port and expanding an existing yard, thus providing extra security for cargo moving through the port via railcars and offering additional storage space.
PORT OF HOUSTON
The Port of Houston Authority is continuing to advance infrastructure projects at the nation’s No. 1 foreign commerce port, where expansion goes on at the $1 billion Bayport Container Terminal. Progress also is being made on environmental, security and workforce development fronts.(Please see feature interview with Wade M. Battles, the authority’s actindirector, on page 4 in issue #453.)
PORT OF TEXAS CITY
Efforts to deepen the Port of Texas City’s channel to 45 feet are getting a boost with $44 million in funding from the