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            may 24, 2019

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Restrictions on bigger box ships accessing Houston sparks outcry


Representatives of container shipping companies and trucking firms have blocked a proposal to restrict the number of containerships of 1,100 or more feet and above that call at the Port of Houston, claiming such a rule would have a negative impact on the entire shipping and logistics supply chain.
"It's much bigger than just one or two ships delaying cargo," said logistics and trucking company Gulf Winds International's president Todd Stewart. "The bigger picture is that Houston has now become a major distribution point."
A restriction on container ships, however, could overturn those gains and affect jobs throughout the supply chain, Mr Stewart and others warned during the monthly meeting for the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports, reported Houston Chronicle.
They were pushing back against the Coalition for a Fair and Open Port, which has requested a limit of one of these especially large containerships per week.
The Houston Pilots, tasked with guiding vessels in and out of the Houston ship channel, enacted safety measures that limit the Houston shipping channel's typical two-way traffic to one way when moving containerships. The pilots are expected to ease such restrictions as they become more familiar with the larger vessels.
But the coalition, which includes energy companies Enterprise Products Partners, Targa Resources Corporation and Kinder Morgan, has argued that traffic jams caused by these behemoths will constrict energy exports. The Coalition for a Fair and Open Port refused to comment.
"The proposed restrictions will deter steamship lines from calling on our ports," according to trucking company Jetco Delivery's CEO Brian Fielkow.
"With a one vessel per week limit, we fail to see how the port could dictate which steamship lines may and may not access the container terminals. We can't have a system, which forces the port to pick winners and losers."
Port Houston chief legal officer Erik Eriksson said a working group created to address the one-way traffic concerns came to a general consensus that these ships would be restricted to travelling twice per day during first and last light.
This maximises the daylight hours available for two-way traffic. The Houston pilots expect up to four of these especially large containerships this quarter.

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