04 May 2012 21:03 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemical tanker arrivals on the Houston Ship Channel jumped 74% year on year in April, marking the seventh straight month of big gains for such ships, according to data released on Friday.
The number of chemical ships that entered the Houston Ship Channel last month totalled 141, compared with 81 in April 2011, according to data from the Greater Houston Port Bureau (GHPB), which tracks ship movements on the channel.
The GHPB's arrival data is a measure of overall ship traffic on the Houston waterway.
A shipping source said ethylene-based chemicals continue to move as they were earlier this year. Plus, gasoline, diesel, naphtha and jet fuel cargoes have increased on the waterway because of refinery shutdowns earlier this year in the US Virgin Islands and Aruba. Chemical tankers also carry refined products.
“The US is exporting its head off in that stuff,” the source said, adding that most of the shipments were going to Mexico and South America.
Hovensa, a joint venture between US-based Hess and Venezuela-based Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), shut down all refinery, crude and fuel units at its St Croix refinery in the US Virgin Islands in late February.
Valero shut down its 235,000 bbl/day refinery in Aruba in late March.
Chemical tanker arrivals on the Houston channel in January through April are up 79% compared with the first four months of 2011, according to the GHPB data.
The rise in chemical tanker arrivals showed bigger gains than any other vessel category in the first four months this year.
Crude tanker traffic, which accounts for the greatest number of vessels, declined 16% from January to April, to 1,038 tankers this year compared with 1,235 tankers in the first fourth months of 2011, according to the GHPB data.
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