Proposed rule change would allow larger container ships in Houston Ship Channel

Author: Adam Yanelli

2021/06/24

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Houston Ship Channel may soon allow container ships as long as 1,120 feet to enter the waterway after a vote on a change to the safety rules by the Houston Pilot Board.

A spokesperson for the Houston Pilots Association said the Pilot Commission will meet on Monday and could follow up on the recommendation and make the new rule final.

The change would allow almost all container ships to access the Houston Ship Channel, which offers vital access to chemical production sites in the US Gulf region.

Most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, but container ships are used to transport polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which are shipped in pellets.

Port of Houston Authority Chairman Ric Campo voiced the Port’s support for the rule change during a regular meeting this week.

In other port-related news, the Port Commission has authorised negotiations with the US Army Corps of Engineers on a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) for an expansion program for the Channel.

Project 11, a partnership between the port, the US Army Corps of Engineers and private industry, would widen the channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 feet to 700 feet.

It will also deepen upstream segments to 46.5 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements, and craft new environmental features.

The Houston Ship Channel complex and its more than 200 public and private terminals, collectively known as the Port of Houston, is the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage.