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Tonnage at 15 Million Tons, Led by Container Growth

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HOUSTON, June 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tonnage is up this year at the Port of Houston Authority, with container tonnage through May up by 9 percent, Executive Director Len Waterworth reported at Tuesday's meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority.

Waterworth also reported that May operating revenue was at an all-time high of $20 million, up 4 percent or $800,000. This marked the first time in Port Authority history that operating revenue has exceeded $20 million. Year-to-date operating revenue of $96 million reflects a $4 million or 5 percent increase, again driven by strong container growth.

Also in his monthly report, Waterworth said that total tonnage at Port Authority facilities for the month of May was 3 million tons, up 10 percent over the prior year, led by container growth at Barbours Cut, in particular. Year-to-date total tonnage of 15 million tons is up 3 percent. Container tonnage is up 10 percent in May and up 9 percent year to date, at 8 million tons.

Waterworth said steel for the month of May is down 21 percent due primarily to declines in the drilling industry, which was at a peak in 2012. Year to date, steel is at 2 million tons. Bulk cargo (including grains and coal) is up by 37 percent at 1 million tons due in part to improved grain exports over the prior year. Year to date, bulk cargo is 4 million tons, up 14 percent.

Year to date, the Port Authority has realized $21 million in net income, up $5 million or 34 percent, with higher contributions in aid of construction and grant funding receipts received thus far in the year.

Total cash flow of $44 million is up by $6 million or 15 percent so far this year. Net operating income is ahead of budget by $9 million or 309 percent, due to strength in container revenues combined with lower spending. A budget reforecast will be submitted to the Port Commission in July.

"I am very pleased with the performance so far this year as we see market demand in the petrochemical industry increase," Waterworth said.

During the meeting, Chairman Janiece Longoria recognized the arrival earlier in the month of the Port Authority's first, new high-tech emergency response vessel. Its two-week journey across the country was highlighted through daily updates on Facebook and Twitter. This is the first of three state-of-the-art vessels, purchased with awards from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant Program as well as matching funds from the Port Authority.

"When our final emergency response vessel is delivered next year, the Port Authority will have the most up-to-date fleet in the nation," she said.

Longoria reported that Marcus Woodring, Managing Director for Health, Safety, Security and Environmental, ably represented the Port Authority in his June 18 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security regarding the Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC program. The Port Authority participated at the invitation of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

The Port Authority's Safety Director was introduced at the meeting. Richard Galle will guide the overall safety program management throughout the organization. The opportunity to enhance the Port Authority's safety program was one outcome of the Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations.

Longoria announced that Executive Director Len Waterworth was recently appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation as a member of the new National Freight Advisory Committee, which is charged with providing advice and recommendations to help improve the national freight transportation system.

Waterworth gave a brief update on the permitting process for Bayport and Barbours Cut channel dredging. He said that he was in communication with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership and was confident that the construction award would occur early next year.

Longoria also congratulated the first class of maritime graduates from the Port of Houston Maritime Academy programs at Jack Yates and Stephen F. Austin high schools in the Houston Independent School District. Collectively, 105 maritime students graduated this year, including those in programs at high schools in the LaPorte and Pasadena school districts.

Woodring presented the first-ever PHA Fire Department Chief's Medal to Assistant Chief Jason Roberts in acknowledgement of his heroic efforts in saving a man's life. On May 31, Roberts was driving back to the PHA firehouse when he noticed a woman waving frantically. She had stopped to block traffic for a man who had been hit by a truck and was lying in the road. Roberts gave the man oxygen and stabilized him until Channelview EMS arrived and Life Flighted him to the hospital. Chief William Buck presented Roberts with the medal for his "unselfish response and professional medical care in saving the man's life," and noted that Roberts went above and beyond the call of duty in a situation that usually called for a three-man team.

Waterworth commented on Robert's heroism: "Character is measured in times of adversity," he said.

The full meeting agenda is available on the Port of Houston Authority website, www.portofhouston.com/the-port-commission/public-meetings/agendas.

About the Port of Houston Authority

For nearly 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