Steel volume is showing some signs of improvement, Port of Houston CEO Alec Dreyer said during his monthly financial report to the Board of Commissioners.
“The first four months of 2009 were record levels of import steel for us, and our first three months of 2010 can best be characterized as an anemic performance but relative to the latter half of 2009, our steel performance is improving,” Dreyer said.
“Industry officials are still expecting steel to begin to flow more readily this summer. We’re not seeing anything right now to dispel that belief but time will tell. Steel tonnage is down slightly more than 1 million tons through the first three months of this year relative to last year’s record levels,” he said.
The port handled 449,741 U.S. tons of steel during the first quarter of 2010, down some 71 percent from the 1,528,678 tons handled during the first quarter of 2009.
During its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, the board amended Tariff No. 8 to provide for a special dockage rate for barges to lay at Port Authority wharves while awaiting loading or discharge docks within the Port of Houston and also to increase the free time for inbound direct discharge steel to 15 days, both as of May 1. The additional free time is a short-term adjustment intended to give relief to steel importers without negatively affecting dock availability and cargo operations.
The board also approved using $1.5 million from an EPA clean diesel funding assistance program to reimburse Maersk Line for using cleaner fuel at Houston.
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