Chem tanker traffic on Texas channel increases for 13th month

07 November 2012 22:43  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--October chemical tanker arrivals on the Houston Ship Channel increased by 46% year on year, continuing the surge on the waterway in 2012 from petroleum-product shipments, according to data released on Wednesday.

The number of chemical ships that entered the Texas waterway in October totalled 130, compared with 89 vessels in the same month of 2011, according to data from the Greater Houston Port Bureau (GHPB), which tracks ship traffic on the channel.

The bureau's arrival data is a measure of overall ship traffic on the Houston waterway.

October marked the 13th straight month of large gains for chemical tankers. The boom on the channel began in late summer 2011 from a boost in refined products and chemical shipments and also refinery shutdowns earlier this year in the US Virgin Islands and Aruba that spurred US exports.

In the first 10 months this year, chemical tanker arrivals shot up about 82% over arrivals during the same period of 2011. The rise in chemical tanker arrivals showed bigger gains by far than any other vessel category from January through October.

Crude tanker traffic, which accounts for the greatest number of ships on the waterway, fell by nearly 20% in the first 10 months, to 2,450 tankers this year compared with 3,052 tankers in the first 10 months of 2011, according to the GHPB data.

The boom in traffic has created a lot of business for new towboats and other vessels that navigate the waterway, said Tom Marian, general counsel for Buffalo Marine in Houston, a barge and bunker operator.

Marian said he is worried about new towboats and other vessels that have been ordered this year and in 2011 that could become financial anchors for owners if the economy dips back into a recession.

“The market is in favour of the carrier right now,” Marian said.

But Marian added that the re-election of President Barack Obama and the expected continued opposition from his administration toward the oil and gas industry has prompted real worry in the marine business.

“In the near-term, there is a tremendous amount of negativity in the industry,” Marian said.

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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