Its Robust Capital Improvements Investments Continue
The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority met on Monday, March 20. Chairman Ric Campo opened the meeting regarding the continued progress of the Houston Ship Channel expansion and deepening program, Project 11. The project is still on time and on budget. However, he acknowledged the anticipation of $180 million in government funding still needed for the final leg of construction expected for completion in 2025.
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Port Houston's Turning Basin General Cargo Terminal (Photo: Business Wire)
Campo applauded all those involved with the continued success of the ambitious water infrastructure program. He also emphasized the critical importance of deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel - the nation's busiest waterway - to improve the efficiency and safety of two-way vessel traffic to keep goods and commerce moving.
While reports concerning Project 11 remained steady, a new development in cargo volumes for the eight public terminals was given by Executive Director Roger Guenther in his executive report to the Port Commission. “Overall tonnage is up 7% year-to-date collectively for our public terminals, however, we are now seeing considerable softening of demand, especially in the import of containers,” he said.
“Nevertheless, export volumes remain strong driven by the strength of plastic resins and other petrochemical commodities produced in our region and delivered globally through Port Houston,” Guenther added, “Our export shippers have signaled that 2023 will continue to be a solid year.”
Tempering expectations concerning container imports, Guenther expressed that this softening was anticipated in the annual budget, so though only 2 months into the year, the Port is tracking to those plans. “Expectations are that recovery of this volume will begin to bounce back in the last half of 2023,” he said.
Still, Guenther presented an optimistic summary. “We look at this short breather in import demand as an opportunity to take advantage of and utilize this time to reset and continue to aggressively continue with capital improvements to our facilities to meet future demand, with planned investments of $1.8 billion in improvements over the next five years,” he stated.
Actions taken by the Port Commission during its meeting included adopting a resolution expressing Port Houston’s intent to finance the remaining portions of its share of Project 11 expenditures with proceeds of tax-exempt, revenue-backed debt obligations.
Also, during the meeting, Guenther mentioned a visit earlier in March from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Board of Trustees and staff. During their visit and tour of the Port and waterway, EDF learned more in-depth about how the Port works collaboratively with private industries, the community, and others.
Guenther and other executive leadership expressed how they were encouraged by EDF’s responsiveness to the Port’s Environmental, Social, Safety, and Governance Plan (ES2G) and the funding applications it is pursuing. Guenther and the leadership team also shared Port Houston is looking forward to continuing cooperative engagement with EDF.
The Executive Director also announced Charlie Jenkins, Senior Director of Asset Management & Strategic Coordination, has assumed the new role of Chief Channel Infrastructure Officer. Jenkins will lead the development and maintenance of the Houston Ship Channel and oversee the development and implementation of the Port Houston Strategic Asset Management Program.
Rich Byrnes will continue as Chief Port Infrastructure Officer, leading the planning, design, construction, and sustainability of all current and future Port Houston facilities and programs, including the Environmental Affairs, Project & Construction Management, Technical & Business Analytics, and Facility Planning departments.
The Port Commission will meet on Tuesday, May 2, for its next regular monthly meeting.
About Port Houston
For more than 100 years, Port Houston has owned and operated the public wharves and terminals along the Houston Ship Channel, including the area’s largest breakbulk facility and two of the most efficient container terminals in the country. Port Houston is the advocate and a strategic leader for the Channel. The Houston Ship Channel complex and its more than 200 private and eight public terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage and an essential economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the U.S. The Port of Houston supports the creation of nearly 1.35 million jobs in Texas and 3.2 million jobs nationwide, and economic activity totaling $339 billion in Texas – 20.6 percent of Texas’ total gross domestic product (GDP) – and $801.9 billion in economic impact across the nation. For more information, visit the website at PortHouston.com.
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Lisa Ashley-Daniels, Director, Public Relations, Office: 713-670-2644; Mobile: 832-247-8179; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org