Port Houston Container Growth Continues; Container Tariff Amendments Authorized
The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority met on Thursday, October 27, for its regular monthly meeting.
In his report to the Commission, Executive Director Roger Guenther stated that Port Houston has yet to experience any softening in import loads. He highlighted September as the second-highest month in container cargo volumes, only slightly behind August.
As this growth continues, Executive Director Guenther emphasized it was in the best interests and for the benefit of all supply chain stakeholders to minimize container dwell time at Port Houston terminals, to maintain efficient operations.
In response, during the meeting the Commission authorized amendments to Tariffs Nos. 14 and 15 covering Barbours Cut Terminal and Bayport Container Terminal as proposed by staff. Effective December 1, 2022, a sustained import dwell fee will be implemented, and an optional excessive import dwell fee has also been authorized.
This new fee structure is aimed to help mitigate the issue of long-dwelling loaded import containers by incentivizing cargo movement. The fee would be assessed directly to the Beneficial Cargo Owners ("BCOs") on the eighth day after the expiration of free time. Guenther shared that staff had evaluated several options to improve Port Houston's cargo movement, including reviewing practices implemented by other U.S. ports to improve cargo fluidity. Staff has concluded it would be reasonable to further incentivize the BCO or third party accepting the charge on its behalf to remove containers from the terminal and reduce dwell time.
During the meeting, the Commission also approved amendments of Tariff Nos. 14 and 15 regarding the hour of commencement of free time for export storage, import storage, and rail storage, to reflect earlier gate opening hours.
The Port Commission continued its robust investments in supporting the growth the public terminals are experiencing. For example, it approved more than $52 million towards investment in infrastructure, including providing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers up to $42 million to support the Fiscal Year 2023 for the design and construction of the Houston Ship Channel Expansion – Project 11.
It also approved a $7 million contract to Rigid Constructors, LLC, to construct a 12-acre interim container storage facility expansion to redevelop the west end of Barbours Cut terminal.
The Port Commission will meet on November 18 for its annual Budget Meeting.