During the meeting, Port Commission Chairman Jim Edmonds acknowledged the maiden voyage of the MV COSCO Houston as it made its maiden voyage to its namesake port at Barbours Cut Terminal on July 3. The MV COSCO Houston is the only container vessel named Houston and one of eight ships that have completed their inaugural runs on the new Gulf of Mexico Express transpacific service to Houston from Asia. Edmonds noted that Asia is the fastest-growing trade segment of the Port Authority.
Edmonds also congratulated Commissioner James Fonteno on his recent reappointment by Harris County Commissioners Court, emphasizing the importance of his professional experience in international finance. Fonteno has served on the commission since 1999.
Edmonds also read a resolution in honor of the Port Authority’s longest-tenured employee, Jerry Rhame, who recently retired after a 49-year career.
In his financial report, Waterworth noted that, while recent figures reflect a slowdown in activity, overall tonnage and revenue are still well ahead of last year’s pace.
While total tonnage was up 1 percent for the month of June, it shows 9 percent growth for the first six months of 2012, compared to the same 2011 period. For the month of June, after fairly consistent growth since April 2010, steel declined by 4,000 tons or 1 percent.
“This results primarily from softening in drilling pipe imports, given a ‘flattening’ of rig counts and the likelihood of decreases in natural gas pricing,” Waterworth explained. “Expectations are that the growth will flatten for the remainder of the year after having grown by 1.1million tons, or 60 percent, for the year through June.
“In addition, general cargo at Port Authority facilities (bulk product, bagged goods, wind power equipment, etc.) continue to show growth of 247,000 tons, or 14 percent for the year,” Waterworth reported.
The number of container twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) increased by 11 percent in June, but is still running 2 percent behind the first six months of 2011.
June operating revenues were $18.4 million, up by 10 percent over last year, and year-to-date revenues increased 9 percent. Waterworth attributes the increases to steel throughput, dredge disposal fees and the signing of seven new leases for 2012.
“Overall, our financial health is very good,” Waterworth said.
He also gave a brief update on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit process for Bayport Channel improvements. The public comment period ended July 5, and the Army Corps is compiling those comments. The Port Authority will have 30 days after it receives the Corps’ report to consider recommendations for action, and respond.
Remarks from Port Commissioners included their expressions of praise and appreciation for the public’s “thoughtful, insightful comments” during the public input process.
Waterworth shared that the Port Authority staff is also briefing elected officials on the Bayport project and public concerns.
Commissioners were provided a real estate operations update by Port Authority Real Estate Director R. D. Tanner and Foreign Trade Zone Administrator Shane Williams provided a report on the Texas Triangle Park Foreign Trade Zone application.
Among other items, the Port Commission voted to establish a Defined Contribution retirement benefit plan for eligible Port Authority employees hired on or after August 1, 2012 and maintain the Defined Benefit pension plan for eligible Port Authority employees hired or on after August 1, 2007 through July 2012.
For nearly 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned/operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation’s largest port in terms of foreign waterborne tonnage. The port has historically been an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. The port contributes to the creation of more than one million statewide and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs and the generation of more than $178.5 billion of statewide and $499 billion of nationwide economic activity.
For more information, please visit www.portofhouston.com.
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