Original news was published on 09 July, 2017
THE US Port Houston has completed the dredging of the Bayport Terminal, deepening the channel depth to 48.5 feet to allow vessel drafts of 45 feet. The improvement works facilitate the heavier loading of ships with containers of heavy cargoes such as synthetic resins.
The channel to the port's Barbours Cut terminal already has been deepened to match the 45-foot vessel drafts permitted on the Houston Ship Channel, reported IHS Media.
Houston is at the centre of a petrochemical manufacturing boom created by low-cost natural gas feedstocks. Annual US exports of synthetic resins are expected to rise by 500,000 TEU or more within the next few years.
Authorities at the port of Houston hope to maintain or expand its current 45 per cent share of US polyethylene and polypropylene resin exports but will need additional vessel capacity that the 45-foot channel drafts will provide.
Volumes of such resin exports declined by 31.4 per cent, year on year, in the first four months of 2017, according to data from PIERS, a sister division of JOC.com within IHS Markit. Resins made up 4.4 per cent of Houston's export volumes in the same period.
The port is currently embarking on a US$1 billion expansion and renovation programme at Barbours Cut and Bayport, which combined handle two-thirds of US Gulf container volume.
Houston has posted marked increases in container throughput this year following the addition in 2016 of two all-water Asian services by the 2M Alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co, and by Cosco China Shipping.
January-through-May volume, including empty boxes, amounted to 1.02 million TEU, up 14.6 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to port of Houston statistics.