Port of Houston Authority February Tonnage Jumps 22%

HOUSTON, March 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Activity across Port of Houston Authority docks continues to show strength as February 2015 tonnage figures reflected a 22-percent increase compared to February 2014.

Executive Director Roger Guenther released the information today during the monthly meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority.

Guenther reported that the Port Authority's Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals were particularly busy. A combined 40 percent more loaded containers than a year ago was handled.

". . . Our sharp increases in container volume are not just from East Asian services and diversion from the West Coast," Guenther said. "Those have been large, but all of our trade lanes, including the East Coast of South America, Europe and (the Mediterranean) have seen substantial increases in export volumes."

The Port Authority, which handled a record 37 million tons of cargo in 2014, moved more than six million tons through the first two months of this year.

Increases in import steel contributed to February's strong showing, though Guenther cautioned that steel volumes are expected to subside in the coming months as inventory levels stabilize and demand reflects crude oil market prices.

Revenue for the first two months of the year is up 24 percent over last year. February's operating revenue of $23.7 million is 32 percent higher than February 2014 and marks the 13th consecutive month that the Port Authority has surpassed the prior year's monthly production.

Guenther reported $24 million in cash flow has been generated through the first two months.

"These funds support our capital improvement plan that will expand the service offering to our customers and (help to continue to) bring prosperity to the area," he said.

Port Commissioners approved the expedited design of Bayport's Container Yard 6.

"With this recent activity, along with the anticipated surge of resin exports in the next couple of years, we continue to assess capacity requirements at our container facilities to ensure we stay in front of the demand curve," Guenther said. "We believe that there may be a need to adjust and accelerate our plans."

Additionally, Guenther reported that four new wharf cranes designated for Barbours Cut are in transit and are expected to arrive the first week in May.

Chairman Janiece Longoria noted the Port Authority participated in two Houston events hosted by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster at Rice University and at the Greater Houston Partnership.

Chairman Longoria commented on the collaboration demonstrated in the response to the collision in the Houston Ship Channel between the Carla Maersk, and the Conti Peridot. The Chairman acknowledged the U.S. Coast Guard, in particular Captain of the Port Brian Penoyer, and the unified response of others, including affected cities and the county, as well as Port Authority staff.

She noted that this incident and the partial closing of the channel further underscored the need for federal funding of channel improvements to assure that the channel is at optimum depth and width for safe navigation.

Chairman Longoria shared that the Port of Houston is one of three ports in the nation selected for a congressional study for potential improvements.

"We look forward to working with the federal government to implement recommended improvements (to the Houston Ship Channel) from this study," she stated.

About the Port of Houston Authority

For more than 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned or operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation's largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage. The port is an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. It supports the creation of more than one million statewide jobs and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs, and the generation of economic activity totaling more than $178.5 billion in Texas and $499 billion across the nation. For more information, visit the Port Authority website at: www.portofhouston.com

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=719

CONTACT: Bill Hensel, Manager, Corporate Communications Office: 713-670-2893 Cell: 832-452-5776 E-mail: bhensel@poha.com

Source:Port of Houston Authority