Port of Houston posts strong box gains in Nov.

The Port Houston Authority also approved a 50-year lease with a plastic pellet transloader.

Container volume at the Port of Houston grew 15 percent in November to 159,140 TEUs from 138,486 TEUs one year earlier, the port authority announced Thursday. 

Container throughput is flat through November at 1.79 million TEUs, but the port still has the potential to set a volume record depending on December’s numbers.  Port officials were unable to identify reasons for the strong container growth, but anecdotal evidence suggests the port has benefited from shippers diverting cargo from West Coast ports to avoid congestion.  Meanwhile, terminals at the port have handled 34 million tons of cargo through November, and steel imports, up 82 percent so far this year, are set to surpass the previous tonnage highs set in 2008, the port authority said.

Cargo and real estate business have contributed to a 12-percent increase in revenues this year, with cash flow improved by 10 percent to $109 million.

120328-portlogocolor300In other news, the Port Commission awarded a $23.8 million contract to construct an additional container yard at the Bayport Container Terminal. The terminal, which opened in 2007, is being built out in phases.

The port authority said it expects to take delivery in April of four oversize ship-to-shore cranes capable of reaching 22 slots across a vessel. The cranes were ordered from Konecranes at a cost of almost $50 million and will be placed on 1,300 feet of retrofitted dock at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal, which currently has cranes that span 13 to 16 containers wide. Dredging of the federal portion of the Barbours Cut channel is substantially complete, and dredging began last month on the Bayport channel.

Port Commissioners also approved the lease to Frontier Logistics for 27.8 acres of non-contiguous, unimproved rail-served property near Barbours Cut. The lease will support an expected growth in resin exports. Frontier, based in La Porte, Texas, provides logistics service for customers in the plastics industry and already operates a transload facility adjacent to the marine terminal.

According to documents provided by the port authority, another 24 acres will be included in the deal once a current tenant leaves at the expiration of its lease in October or through earlier termination. Frontier will sign a 30-year lease with four extension options of five-years. Annual rent initially will be $505,620 and rise to $983,000 after the first year.